The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress
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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,500 ratings  ·  371 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2014)
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Historical Fiction 2014
49th out of 354 books — 1,844 voters
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5th out of 11 books — 23 voters

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Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Who would have thought that being a maid could be this dangerous? Maria never would have guessed that.

Maria cleaned for Judge Joseph Crater who had a mistress and who was involved with gangsters. Then one day Joseph disappeared, and even his wife didn't know where he was.

Joseph’s wife, Stella, their maid, Maria, and Joseph’s mistress, Ritzi, were characters you will love and feel sorry for. Stella Crater knew about her husband's mistress, Maria saw the mistress one day when she arrived to clean...more
This was quite satisfying, starting slow but gaining momentum. Based on the actual disappearance of a State Supreme Court Judge who was never found, Ariel Lawhon has painted a colorful and somewhat historical depiction of New York City in the early thirties and her descriptions are a highlight. Broadway, gangsters, fashion, and social mores are splashed through the pages like the Newspaper rag headlines. Lawhon uses creative license to fill in the gaps of the actual case, but separates fact from...more
Going into this book, I knew nothing about the disappearance of Justice Joseph Crater, so I was judging the book more from a fiction than a historical fiction perspective. I think the book works well as pure fiction--and based on other readers' comments, it seems to succeed as historical fiction, as well. I thought this book was excellent.

I enjoyed the ways the women's lives intertwined and how each of them was hiding secrets from everyone else--including the book's readers. Books that jump bac...more
Nicole Bonia
Fascinating paegturner speculating the real story behind the disappearance of Justice Joseph Crater in 1930 through the women who were closely involved in his life. A wonderfully imagined and brutal rendering of 1930's New York, complete with gangsters, showgirls, corrupt politicians and the women forced to live in their shadows. Completely absorbing and tough to put down once begun.
Rhiannon Johnson
Ariel Lawhon transports readers to 1930's New York gatherings full of corrupt police, politicians, and showgirls. Too often movies and books depicting this era take on the masculine angle of guns and gangsters with girls on the side and while women have often been embroiled in controversies and conspiracies, the focus is generally on the men. Until now. Lawhon's three female main characters exemplify the three layers of social strata of the time: politician's wife, working class woman, and showg...more
'The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress' by Ariel Lawhon is based on the real life disappearance of New York Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater in 1930. The story unfolds primarily in New York City, where very little divides the powerful from the criminal and the corruption and ambition that drives them. Our guide to the underworld is a showgirl named Ritzi, who spends late nights with both Judge Crater and notorious mob boss Owney Madden.

When Crater goes missing Detective Jude Simon is assigned to...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
This is my favorite First Read's giveaway ever (granted, I had planned on purchasing this book either way, since I'd become familiar with the author at her site,

But, wow. I have to say that this book is an anomaly – and I mean that in the most complimentary of manners. It’s a mystery but also a richly written character-driven novel. The language is tight but with such crisp and illustrative word choices that it could sit proudly among the most literary of novels (many, many senten...more
Michelle Lane
I received this book as a 1st reads promotional from the publisher.

Let me first just explain my 4 star vrs 5 star philosophy; I only give a 5 star review if a book in some way changes my life and the way I view the world. That being said I really enjoyed this book.

I was not familiar with Judge Crater's disappearance prior to reading this novel so my review is no way related to it's historical accuracy. Strictly as a work of fiction I found it immensely enjoyable and became very vested in all 3 m...more
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawson is an exceptional fictional account, based upon known fact, of the 1930 disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater. Lawson takes the reader back to the time period, expertly sets the mood and then gives the reader well thought out characters and a rather plausible account of just what happened to Judge Crater. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress was a book I did not want to put down and while it will not be out until January 2014, I just had...more
Ann Marie Lee's narration helped set the mood for this ripped from the headlines story about a New York judge's mysterious disappearance. This book is screaming to be made into a movie- it has all the makings of a great film.
Ambience- 1930's New York
Characters- mobsters, showgirls, and politicians
Plot- why did the judge disappear?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Tara Chevrestt
Truly a riveting read, drama at its near finest. I almost gave this a five.

A man is missing, possibly dead, and despite all the gangsters, lawyers, dirty detectives, newspaper reporters, this isn't loaded with testosterone, but estrogen. The mystery follows three different woman and what they see and how they all in their own ways, willingly or unwillingly, participated in the death/disappearance of a man who is...well, better off dead. LOL

Maria is the maid, who comes off as rather innocent, bu...more
Have you ever read a book that you just can't stop thinking, or talking about and immediately after finishing you just want to tell EVERYONE about it? Me too. This book, to be exact. I read a lot, so I like to think I have become rather discerning when it comes to the important things like depth of character creation, plot, pace and the way the author chooses to wrap up the story. In this case, I am so fantastically impressed with this book that I can't wait until the end of this review to tell...more
Very loosely based on little-known facts about the real disappearance in 1930 of Judge Joseph Crater, the author takes us on an enjoyable journey into what maybe could have happened to him. These are three women in his life, none of whom were particularly fond of the man, but all had secrets they weren't sharing. Not with reporters, with family, or with the police. I liked the inner strength found in these women, and felt how it was to be female in gangster-infested N.Y.C. at that time.
Eric Kibler
I always enjoyed the Nathan Heller novels by Max Allen Collins. In them, the fictional private eye Heller solves real-life historical mysteries. I always end up admiring the way Collins comes up with a plausible resolution, a way for Heller to solve the case, and a rationale for why the solution must still remain hush-hush. Collins also has a deft way of bringing the real life historical characters to life on the page.

Anyway, those books are good. Read them.

Of this book, I'll just say that it do...more
This is a 3.5 star book. I haven't decided yet whether to round up or down.
Title - The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

Author - Ariel Lawhon

Summary -

In August of 1930, Judge Joe Crater stepped into a cab outside of Club Abbey never to be seen again. It is one of the great mysteries in American history. Judge Crater left behind a mysteries, ties to the corrupt Tammany Hall and most powerful criminals of his day. He also left behind three women. The wife, the maid and the mistress. This novel is the story of how one fateful event ties their lives together forever.
The w...more
This was an unexpected pleasure to read, and one of my favorite reads thus far this year.

This novel is a fictionalized recount of the details surrounding a famous real-life "missing" person's case, that of New York judge Joseph Force Crater. The people who know the most about him are the three main women in his life- his wife, maid, and mistress. Each of them react differently to his disappearance and each has their reasons for not wanting to divulge the whole truth.

I knew absolutely nothing abo...more
I loved reading this at a hotel recently--you can tell people walking by and looking at the title and doing a double take. Because it's a very subdued cover--with a photo of the back of a flapper--it's not so sleezy as say, when I read Tampa with the warning on the cover.

I received this as an ARC and I knew nothing about the background, of a NY State Supreme Court judge disappearing in 1930. Lawhon is very careful (at the end) to let you know what's real and what's not and to what extent, even...more
Rob Slaven
As usual, I didn't pay anything for this book but instead received it for free directly from the publisher. Also as usual, despite that kindness I will proceed to be completely honest about it.

At a high level, this book is the speculative history of the disappearance of Joseph Force Crater in 1930. At the time the story kept the world riveted to their newspapers and was the object of much editorial speculation. This narrative cobbles the story together from the perspective of the women in Judge...more
Maybe I'm just really old... or really weird... but I've been interested in the Judge Crater disappearance since I was a kid (Lord Lucan, too, if that says anything). And now here's a historical supposal about what happened to him!

For those that don't know, Judge Joseph Force Crater was an Associate Justice for the NY Supreme Court during the days of Prohibition and - more important - Tammany Hall. His rise from attorney/law professor to judge was questionable and shortly before he was due to t...more
Diane S.
In 1930, the unsolved crime of the disappearance of Judge Crater provides a fertile field for the author's interpretation of the events leading up to this event. Prohibition mobsters and politicians, dance hall girls and girlie shows, speakeasies and the easy access to alcohol that those who had the power or the money never actually had to do without all set the stage complete the picture

There is no reason to say that events could not have happened this way, those suspected or supposedly holding...more
Great title right?! Could be about the Schwarzenegger family, but no, this scandal is much older. Ariel Lawhorn crafted a wonderfully rich novel based on an actual unsolved case from 1930.

Three women, Stella (the wife), Maria (the maid), and Ritzi (the mistress) all have at least one thing in common... a very shady and very missing Judge Crater. I enjoyed getting to know Lawhorn's version of all of them and their individual stories.

There were definitely twists and turns that caught me by surpris...more
Renee Rosen
If you love the 1930s and a real page turner, this book is for you. The author sweeps time back and forth while skillfully holding onto her three main characters for a mystery with twists and turn you never see coming. I won't spoil the ending but rest assured, it's completely unpredictable. And yet, once you reach that very satisfying ending, you begin to truly appreciate what Lawhon has created here. This is an author who will definitely be on my radar going forward!
I felt like this book was trying really, really hard to be clever but didn't quite get there. The premise (the disappearance of a judge and the roles the three women in his life may or may not have played in that disappearance) was really intriguing and great, but the lack of character development and lack of real urgency concerning the central mystery meant that this book was somehow missing its spark. However, I do always enjoy historical New York as a setting when done well, and Lawhon has cl...more
Nancy Narma
“And the Mystery Continues to This Day…”

In a time of speakeasies, prohibition, and the corruption known as “Tammany Hall”, the tale of one of America’s most famous unsolved mysteries begins in August of 1930 and stretches to 1969, and beyond. We first travel to Greenwich Village, where we are introduced to Stella Crater, wife of corrupt N.Y. Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater. It is 1931 and the first anniversary of her Husband’s strange disappearance, so she goes back to the last place in which...more
MaryannC.Book Fiend
A prominent judge goes missing and three woman are connected to him in someway, one is his wife, one is his maid and the other is his mistress. This isnt neccesarily a "who-dunnit" type of novel, but for these women their connection to him entwines into their lives. This was a well written, engrossing read filled with details of the 1930's, the seedy speakeasy's, the sultry jazz music, ambitious chorus girls and of course gangsters. The story flows nicely and is well worth the time spent reading...more
Pamela Beckford
I will cut to the chase, this was an excellent book. I wouldn't be surprised if I'm not still talking about this book in a year. The story revolves around a state supreme court judge and his untimely disappearance. Throw in a mobster, a Speakeasy, and showgirls. The story is told from Judge Crater's wife's point of view, as well as from the Crater's maid and the Judge's mistress. I won't go into the particulars of the story, you can get that from the synopsis.

This was a well written book. I did...more
Unsolved mysteries of true crimes can be fertile ground for novelists, and Ariel Lawhon proves that the speculation surround the known events can be very entertaining. In her novel, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress Lawhon examines the unsolved disappearance of Justice Joseph Crater in 1930 by focusing on the women who knew him best, his wife, his housekeeper, and his mistress. Recently appointed to the bench Joseph Crater got into a cab in New York City on August 6th 1930 and was never seen...more
Laura Agnella
I have to admit, I was initially unsure of this book. I went into it knowing nothing about Joseph Crater, or really even much about this time period. I have to say however, that once I started the story I had a hard time putting it down.
First off, all three women in the story were interesting. They were also complete opposites. We have Stella, the wife, who dutifully stands on the arm of her husband and chooses to look the other way when it comes to his many indiscretions. Maria, the maid, works...more
I knew nothing about the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater before reading this book, and I'm glad I didn't have a background on the case as it allowed me to enjoy this book without worrying about the accuracy of historical details. Apparently the case has yet to be solved to this day, and it is something that still fascinates many people - the author obviously one of them. This book is the author's spin on what could have happened to Joseph Crater and I really enjoyed her interpretation of th...more
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Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of the popular online book club She Reads ( 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 2...more
More about Ariel Lawhon...
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“She bristled at this but hid her frustration behind a cool smile. “It’s inevitable, you know, women in politics.” 1 likes
“I hate being predictable.” “I believe they call that classy.” 1 likes
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