Published by Doubleday
Publication Date: Jan. 24, 2014
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Synopsis from Goodreads:
“One summer night in 1930, Judge Joseph Crater steps into a New York City cab and is never heard from again. Behind this great man are three women, each with her own tale to tell: Stella, his fashionable wife, the picture of propriety; Maria, their steadfast maid, indebted to the judge; and Ritzi, his showgirl mistress, willing to seize any chance to break out of the chorus line.
As the twisted truth emerges, Ariel Lawhon’s wickedly entertaining debut mystery transports us into the smoky jazz clubs, the seedy backstage dressing rooms, and the shadowy streets beneath the Art Deco skyline.”
As a historical fiction lover, I was thrilled when my book club won The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon from She Reads. This historical fiction based on a true story transported me to a time when gangsters ruled New York and showgirls ruled the nights. I love that Lawhon told about the Judge’s disappearance through the perspective of his wife, his maid and his mitress: the women who knew him best and all his dirty little secrets. Lawhon cleverly weaves a tale of mystery and drama where everyone appears to have a motive for wanting Judge Crater to disappear and no one is whom they seem to be. Since it’s a murder mystery, it’s hard to talk about this book too much without giving something away but I’ll try! Let’s focus on these powerful, virtuous and seductive ladies, shall we?
Stella is the poised, elegant and stoic judge’s wife. She never lets her guard down and keeps her appearances up as her life is always under the microscope. Behind every great man is a great woman, and Stella is the backbone that keeps Judge Crater in office. The cops seem to think that she knows more than she is willing to admit and they can’t break through her facade. How much does she really know about her husband’s political and personal affairs? Does she know what really happened to him? Has the love faded in their marriage and is it just a marriage for appearance’s sake?
Maria is the young, Catholic maid and is married to the cop who is investigating her boss’s disappearance. She’s desperate to please her husband and the Judge and Stella but beneath her simple minded and virtuous exterior, there is more to Maria than meets the eye. Who is she fooling? What has she seen and what secrets is she keeping?
Ritzi is the Judge’s mistress and her backstory is the most developed. Caught between a rock and a hard place since she was young, Ritzi’s showgirl life is anything but glamorous. Trying to make a better life for herself is not easy when she’s a pawn in a game ruled by powerful men. What are Ritzi’s motivations for being with Judge Crater? Will she be able to escape her station in life?
The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon is an intriguing mystery told from the perspective of complex women in a time when women were regarded as arm candy for powerful men. Maybe the men should not have underestimated these women!
Belgrade Lakes, Maine and New York City, New York
I got enough copies for my book club members but then we had a couple drop out and I never did get them their books. That means I have 2 copies to give away to lucky readers. Since I am hosting this giveaway personally, I’m going to keep it open through all of September, my birthday month! Open to US residents only (sorry international folks, these babies are hardcovers).