The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress
by Ariel Lawhon
published by Doubleday
I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.
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. (from Goodreads)
From the author Ariel Lawhon, a co-founder of She Reads, comes this wonderful tale based on the true story of the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater in the 1930s. Once called “the missingest man in NY”, Judge Crate disappeared into a cab one night and seemingly vanished into thin air. The author takes us into a world of speakeasies and jazz clubs to imagine what really happened to the judge through the eyes of the women who knew hime best- his socialite wife Stella, his showgirl mistress Ritzi, and his maid Maria. The story moves along nicely as we get to know these women and the kind of man the “honorable” judge was. Then about 3/4 of the way through-BAM! Awesome twist that makes you turn the pages even faster. I love books set in this era, especially those set in NY. What makes this even better is that it is based on a true story, which always makes me want to look up all the facts that I can on it. The author does a terrific job of weaving in what might have happened to the judge, while creating very vivid female character to tell her story through. Wonderfully written and evoking a spellbinding time in our history, I would definitely recommend this book.
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To learn more about the disappearance of Judge Crater-
About the Author
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of the popular online book club She Reads (www.shereads.org). A novelist, blogger, and life-long reader, she lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart. Her next novel, THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS, will release from Doubleday in February of 2014.