Review: The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress

Unknown Well.  I have a new favorite novel.  AND- it’s a debut novel.

Ariel Lawhon has taken us back to the New York of 1930 drenched with jazz clubs, mob bosses, show girls, political scandals, and all the glamour of the Art Deco era.  She tells the story of Judge Joseph Crater’s disappearance amidst a political scandal.  What we know is that Judge Crater crawled in a cab one night in the summer of 1930 and was never seen again.

This is where Lawhon picks up and tells the tale of what might have been.  She opens in 1969 with Judge Crater’s widow, Stella, ready to tell a detective what she knows about the judge’s disappearance 39 years ago.  Stella is the picture of elegance and class, though maybe a little cold.  But as with any good story, Stella isn’t the only woman with knowledge of what could have happened to the judge.  Ritzi, a New York showgirl and acquaintance of Owney “The Killer” Madden, a well-known mob boss also may know what happened.  And perhaps the most likable of all the women, Maria, Judge and Mrs. Crater’s maid is also woven into the tale, and she has motives and secrets of her own.

You can read more about it here.

Okay.  I can’t tell you how much I LOVED this novel.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to love it because I had decided that historical fiction wasn’t really my thing anymore.  I was so wrong.

As a matter of fact, I will be very surprised if I read anything this year that I love more than this novel.  I have “met” Ariel via e-mail when Marybeth Whalen e-mailed me last summer about joining  She told me that Ariel had just moved to Franklin so maybe the two of us could connect.  We made a valiant effort last summer and never connected.  She’s on my list of people to get to know when the school year calms down.  I have so many questions about how she went about researching and plotting, but for now just treat yourself to a great story full of all the sorts of people you’d love to spy on.

I am fascinated with this story.  I found myself staying up well-into the early morning hours to read uninterrupted.  Y’all, I’m almost 43 years old with a full-time job.  I have no business staying up reading books at 2 am on a Monday, but I did.  And I’m not one bit sorry about it.

This one gets a definitive 10/10.


I received a copy of the novel via the publisher for the purposes of reviewing for

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