The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress
by Ariel Lawhon
Read: May 4-8, 2017
Source: Purchased new
Blurb: Stella Crater, the Judge’s wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Mitzi, 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 Judge Crater to thank for her husband’s recent promotion to Detective for the NYPD. Meanwhile, Judge Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city’s most notorious gangster, Owney “The Killer” Madden.
Then, on a sultry summer night, as rumors circulated about the judge’s involvement in wide-scale political corruption, Judge Crater stepped into a cab and disappeared without a trace. Or did he?
After thirty-nine years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally read to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a corner booth at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge’s favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella begins to tell a tale – of greed, lust, and deceit. As the story unfolds, Stella, Ritzi and Maria slyly break out of the prescribed roles, and it becomes clear that these three women know a lot more than they’d initially let on.
With a layered intensity and tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a gripping tale that will transport readers to a bygone era. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.
Review: I remember when this book first came out seeing it mentioned by Stacy’s Books. I was immediately intrigued and put it on my “watch out for” list. I finally came across it in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble and immediately snatched it up. And then I let it linger on my shelf for more than a year.
I was really intrigued by this book. I knew it was based on a true mystery (Judge Crater really did disappear in the 1930s) and I was interested in seeing how it all played out in a fiction novel. I knew nothing about this particular case, but I really liked this book. Ms. Lawhon really spun a great tale. She made me feel like I was right there in the story with the characters. She really made the setting come to life. And while the “twist” at the end wasn’t really all that surprising to me, it still was a good ending.
I would highly recommend this novel. I think historical fiction fans as well as mystery fans will really enjoy this book. It is so easy to read and a really great story. The characters are all well-developed. The plot line is interesting and the story never once dragged for me. Highly recommended for sure!!