Author(s): Ariel Lawhorn
Published by Anchor on 01/14/2014
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
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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?
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Books that revolve around fictionalizing a real life mystery have always fascinated me, as do books set in the 20s and 30s with their iconic art styles. Those two things come together in The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress in a way that, if not completely amazing, were at least enjoyable.
This book manages to take the style that I love of that time period and really bring it out on the page. Through the dialogue and the attitudes you get a feeling of this world and in Ritzi and Maria Simon you get head strong female characters that embody everything I like about the changes in society at the time. Lawhord really does an excellent job in pulling the reader into the New York of that Era and gives you both the glitz and grime that really make it so enjoyable to read about.
The real historical mystery sets up an interesting plot that the story itself does not quite live up to. As a mystery novel this book doesn’t quite stack up to other titles in the genre. The reader isn’t really given the chance to figure out the story or trace the clues and instead has to live with having all the illuminating points dumped on them at the end of the story. While this is a legitimate option for a mystery you lose the “ah-ha” moment that makes giants of the genre so enjoyable.
While the mystery might not hold up, the dialogue, characters and setting make this book work. As a piece of fun historical fiction his book is well done, as a mystery it is a bit lackluster. So for those looking for the former this is a no brainer. If you are looking for the latter there are better options.
Review by Travis Starnes