Friday, April 4, 2014

Review: The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 304
Received: Received a copy from the publisher through Netgalley

Release Date: January 14, 2014
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Goodreads Synopsis:

A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930-Justice Joseph Crater's infamous disappearance-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks-one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale-of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.

With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

My Review:

This book was a bit of a complicated one to get through, it jumps around a lot between the three female characters and their interactions with Joseph Crater and the people he is affiliated with. I enjoyed the round about way that the author wrote this story, giving readers a view of how many people's lives changed with the disappearance of the judge, and the mystery as to what actually happened to him.

Ariel Lawhon takes us to the present where after years of never solving the mystery, Judge Crater's wife is ready to tell the story of what she knows, and readers get taken back in time to when he disappears. Sometimes the story goes further back in the past to see how each of the three female characters were introduced to him.

This book will keep readers interested because you can see that there is something hidden beneath everything going on, and you need to read to the end to figure things out. I will say I was a little disappointed at how the ending was written, I think it could have been drawn out in a different way that really caught your attention and make you think about everything that you have just read.

Though the ending let me down a little bit, I really enjoyed the build up Ariel Lawhon has for her readers throughout the story, keeping you interested in the story and wondering what led up to the disappearance. I also think that Ariel did a great job setting the scene bringing readers into the 1930's with great descriptions of the different places that you would find some of the seediest people. 

1 comment:

  1. I was initially sold at "scandalous mystery" but your review makes it sound like it wouldn't live up to my expectations. That's too bad.



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