The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon: A Review
What Goodreads Says 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 politcal 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.
With layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.
What I Say This was a great book. Ariel Lawhon is a phenomenal writer. The way she tells her story is so captivating that you are completely immersed in it. From mobsters to Broadway, this book takes you back into 1930's New York City. There's glamour, politics, corruption, love triangles...the whole shebang. We follow a timeline chronicling what happened prior to and following the disappearance of Judge Crater. It's based off of a real story of a judge whose disappearance is still a mystery. This novel is just the imaginative recount of Ariel Lawhon. I personally, will continue to think that this is what happened because it's clever, interesting and shows how strong the bond between women can be.
There are three main characters that the book revolves around. Stella Crater, Judge Crater's wife, Ritzi, Crater's mistress and Maria Simon, Crater's maid. Each of these women has a personal vendetta against the judge and rightfully so. The plan that unfolds is clever, manipulative in all the right ways and full of juicy drama. Another thing I loved about this book was the involvement of gangsters. It brought edge and danger to the story. I'm also kind of obsessed with mobsters from back in the day. I love reading about their stories and how they got to where they are.
All in all, this was a great book. I loved it and I can't wait for Ariel's next novel. We got the pleasure of chatting with her in the last Literary Junkies Twitter chat back in September. She's so much fun to talk to and it was so interesting to get to know her mind behind the scenes. If you're looking for a juicy read with lots of surprises, pick up The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress. You won't regret it.