Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

Summary from Amazon:

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.

My Thoughts:

    The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress is a bit of a historical fictionalization of a true crime cold case from the early 1930’s.  An unsolved crime that was a huge story that filled not only the hard newspapers but the gossip rags of New York City as well, this story is filled with unsavory characters that are all guilty of something.  There are gangsters, prostitutes, thugs and extortionists just to name a few!   This is based on a true crime and some of the characters were actual people but as you will read in the Author’s Notes many characters are added that never existed. 
     This is a great concept that I really enjoy!  While I was intrigued by the storyline and how many of the characters, especially the ones from the title (Stella, Maria and Ritzi, respectively) the jumping around of the timeline was very erratic and really slowed down my reading progress.  I don’t mind a bit of back and forth in time frames but this wasn’t consistent and tended to be confusing.  Great story but a bit erratic makes it a 3 star read for me.

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