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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  5,372 Ratings  ·  889 Reviews
One summer night in 1930, Judge Joseph Crater steps into a New York City cab and is never heard from again. Behind this great man are three women, each with her own tale to tell: Stella, his fashionable wife, the picture of propriety; Maria, their steadfast maid, indebted to the judge; and Ritzi, his showgirl mistress, willing to seize any chance to break out of the chorus ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Doubleday
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 12, 2014 Cher rated it liked it
3 stars - It was good.

Knowing that this was a fictionalized account of a true event made it far more interesting of a read. Joseph Crater was presented as being an utter prick with no redeeming qualities, so I could not have cared less what happened to him in the end or the details of his demise. On the other hand, the characterization of the ladies (the wife, the maid and the mistress) was excellent, and you find yourself pulling for all three heroines - impressive given how very different they
Jul 09, 2013 Lindley rated it really liked it
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
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Dec 29, 2013 Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

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
Heather Fineisen
Jul 14, 2013 Heather Fineisen rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley
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
Feb 02, 2014 Ionia rated it it was amazing
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
I’m surprised at how much I truly enjoyed this intriguing mystery based on a true story – the mysterious disappearance in 1930 of Judge Joseph Crater, who was never found. The storyline, made all the more deliciously alluring and enticing by the smokey voice of narrator Anne Marie Lee, shifts back and forth between the 1920s, 1930s and 1960s. Joe Crater, we find out is involved in shady activities, is embroiled with unsavory characters and is two-timing his wife, much to the dismay and chagrin o ...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
May 30, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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
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
Feb 05, 2014 Mara rated it liked it
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
Nov 04, 2016 Sondra rated it it was amazing
What a delicious vintage crime story inspired by real events. The era of prohibition and mobsters in NYC spring to life in a novel that is part history, part mystery, and part romance.

The mysterious disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater in 1930 sets the backdrop. Actual parties involved or speculated to be part of his disappearance bring the story to life coupled with a believable mixture of historical fiction. Thoroughly enjoyed this novel and recommend!
Nicole Bonia
Jun 01, 2013 Nicole Bonia rated it it was amazing
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.
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Mar 27, 2014 Melissa Crytzer Fry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
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
Rhiannon Johnson
Feb 10, 2014 Rhiannon Johnson rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 30, 2013 Sterlingcindysu rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
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
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is a 3.5 star book. I haven't decided yet whether to round up or down.
Sue Dix
Apr 15, 2017 Sue Dix rated it liked it
I struggled with this book in the beginning but I stuck with it and it picked up a bit in the middle and towards the end. It is a historical novel, of sorts, in that it gives an alternative theory of what might have happened in the disappearance of Judge Crater. I read this for a book club, so that's the only reason, in the end, that I finished it.
Popy Tobing
I shall give this book 3.5 stars. The story is based on on a true story of the missing jude Joe Carter. 3 ladies held an important roles, the wife, the maid and the mistress as the title said. The plot is a bit too slow for me, but I manage to follow just fine. It does has an interesting point of view, where 3 women with 3 different way of thinking.
Michelle Lane
Nov 20, 2013 Michelle Lane rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I'd been excited about this book for months and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed. I zipped through it in less than two days, unable to put it down.

Inspired by a real life case, Lawhon's novel imagines the circumstances, and the players, involved in Justice Joseph Crater's disappearance. An up-and-coming (corrupt) judge in 1920s New York City, Crater has a gorgeous trophy wife, Stella, a boxom Broadway star mistress, Ritzi, and a pretty, exotic maid, Maria. All three women have reason eno
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
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
Eric Kibler
Apr 20, 2014 Eric Kibler rated it it was ok
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
Oct 28, 2014 leslye rated it liked it
This is a fictionalized account of a true-life mystery that I wasn't familiar with, the disappearance of New York Supreme Court Judge Joseph Crater in 1930. It is exactly the book you'd expect from that title: a scorned wife, a glitzy mistress, and a maid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It has gangsters and bootleggers, showgirls and madams, speakeasies and corrupt politicians.

The timeline jumps around a bit and at first was difficult to follow, but once I figured out the sequence
Diane S ☔
May 03, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
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
Dec 20, 2013 Londa rated it liked it
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
Renee Rosen
Apr 23, 2014 Renee Rosen rated it it was amazing
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!
Aug 25, 2013 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Apr 10, 2017 R rated it really liked it
I could not put this book down, and found myself wanting to return to it at every chance. I had heard of this book a few times, but I had no idea that it was loosely based on a true story and real people. I was blown away at the end of the book when I discovered this. All along I thought the author did a great job establishing the time period, not realizing that those real life people were in the book because they were there at that time.
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Ariel Lawhon is the critically acclaimed author of THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS, FLIGHT OF DREAMS, and I WAS ANASTASIA. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, ...more
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“I hate being predictable.” “I believe they call that classy.” 2 likes
“They hauled books from the shelves, flipped through the pages, and tossed them to the floor until an entire library of legal volumes lay with cracked spines across the Oriental rug.” 1 likes
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