REVIEW: THE WIFE, THE MAID, & THE MISTRESS – ARIEL LAWHON

17618286On a sultry August night in 1930, Judge Joseph Crater disappeared.

Last seen at Club Abbey, a subterranean jazz club, the mystery that surrounds what may or may not have happened to him unfolds slowly, as we follow the stories of the three women who knew him best: his wife Stella, the maid Maria, and his mistress Ritzi.

Across the years and alternating between the perspectives of the women, we come to learn the secrets they each knew and how their knowledge affected the turn of events.

Widespread political corruption marked the times, and it is not surprising that some of these “sins” may have caught up with Joseph Crater. Could the sins of others, like the women in his life, have also had an impact? And who will finally break from the secrets of the past to confess all? Is it possible that the women conspired together to take their revenge on Crater?

I loved how the story went back and forth through time, showing us bits and pieces of the lives of the major players. It would take many years and many pages before the final answers are revealed. And even then, much is speculative.

The fictional tale of The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress: A Novel is based on fact, and the author has cleverly woven the fictional and factual in a way that makes it quite credible. As a reader, I felt as though I were right in the midst of that era, and could almost hear the jazz filling the rooms. I liked each of the women, when at first I was prepared to dislike the mistress. The maid was also surprising, with a cleverness that one might not suspect.

A page turner that kept me engaged to the very end, I can award this one 4.5 stars.

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