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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

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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 line.

As the twisted truth emerges, Ariel Lawhon’s wickedly entertaining debut mystery transports us into the smoky jazz clubs, the seedy backstage dressing rooms, and the shadowy streets beneath the Art Deco skyline.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published January 14, 2014

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About the author

Ariel Lawhon

9 books2,186 followers
Ariel Lawhon is the critically acclaimed, New York Times Bestselling author of THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS, FLIGHT OF DREAMS, I WAS ANASTASIA, and CODE NAME HELENE. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, Indie Next, Costco, and Book of the Month Club selections. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, and black Lab—who is, thankfully, a girl. Ariel splits her time between the grocery store and the baseball field.

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5 stars
1,755 (17%)
4 stars
4,286 (43%)
3 stars
3,038 (31%)
2 stars
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133 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,352 reviews
Profile Image for Cher.
818 reviews281 followers
March 26, 2016
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 are from one another in the book.

Thank goodness for Jude, as he single handedly allows the reader to keep some faith in the goodness of men. Naturally when you are dealing with shady characters, they are not going to shine as heroes, but there were some seriously despicable men in this story.
Jude patted her back in rhythm. Pulled her closer. Breathed in the scent of her soap. She felt his lips smile against the nape of her neck. And she knew that she would rather have this than a baby. She would rather have Jude.

I listened to this on audiobook and the narrator, Ann Marie Lee, did a stupendous job. I was rather impressed with how flawlessly she slipped into a different voice for each character, and will definitely be on the look out for other narrated works by her.

Joseph Crater, looking just as pompous as he seems in the novel:

Favorite Quote: The truth is more important than protecting yourself. Regardless of the consequences.

First Sentence: We begin in a bar.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,596 reviews288 followers
February 21, 2020
“I’d certainly hate to see you sitting around in those smoke-filled rooms at the club debating politics. It’s just not the right thing for women.”
― Ariel Lawhon, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

I did do a bit of skimming on this one but I was not in a reading mood at the time.

But it was good. I liked how, like with another book, "The Art Forger", the author used a true story and combined Historical non fiction with a current fiction story.

I also liked the atmosphere..smoky rooms, music and a mystery waiting to unfold.

I had heard about this book by someone on Goodreads whose taste was close to mine. I am glad I read it.

Bound to appeal to both fans of Historical and mysteries. I may read it again at some point.

3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Lindley.
266 reviews8 followers
July 10, 2013
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 back and forth through time like this one does are usually a bit frustrating to me as a reader, but in this case I thought the flashbacks were well executed and really added to the story.

Lawhon makes each of the women a character you can identify and sympathize with, even when she is lying, cheating, or stealing. I thought the resolution of the mystery was satisfying yet unexpected, and I was glad that the book included a note about which details of the book were drawn from history, and which were invented on the page.
Profile Image for Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews.
1,082 reviews1,411 followers
January 19, 2014

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 and was sworn to secrecy, and Ritizi hated what she did. All three women were tied to Joseph Crater for different reasons and hated him for different reasons.

THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS is based on a true incident. Judge Joseph Crater’s disappearance has never been solved, and his body has never been found.

When I realized THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS was based on a true incident, the book pulled me in even more. The book took you back to a time when showgirls, speakeasies, proper etiquette for ladies, murders, and greasing palms was prevalent.

You will be drawn into the glitz, the glamor, and the corruption of the 1930's and into the lifestyles of the wealthy as well as the working class.

Ritzi was my favorite just because of her guts. Maria was sweet and got drawn into something way out of her league. Stella was indifferent to life and her marriage. They all had a common thread and a common interest.

If you like historical fiction and this era, don’t miss THE WIFE, THE MAID, THE MISTRESS. The surprise ending ties things up nicely.

I am wholeheartedly recommending this book. Loved it. 5/5
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,189 reviews2,261 followers
July 3, 2015
An "imagined" story based on the true story of the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater and the roles that his his wife, his maid, and his mistress may have played in this unsolved mystery. Set in 1930, and full of gangsters, dolls and molls!
Profile Image for Barb.
1,192 reviews128 followers
December 8, 2013
'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 investigate the disappearance, very few know his wife, Maria, is the Crater's maid. Crater's disappearance doesn't seem to cause alarm at first. He often travels between their home in the city and their cottage in Maine. He and Stella have hit a bit of a rough patch in their marriage and it's a long while before she actually declares him missing. When she does the authorities don't seem very concerned.

The narration of this story begins at the ending, in 1969, with Jude Simon and Stella Crater meeting at Club Abigail in Greenwich Village on the anniversary of Joseph Crater's disappearance, a tradition that Stella has maintained since her husband vanished. This will be the last gathering of its kind, Stella won't make it to 1970.

Jude Simon still wants to know what happened to Crater and believes Stella has held back vital information regarding the disappearance of her husband. Finally, Stella is ready to share her memories of the past and an important letter that will shed light on what happened nearly forty years ago.

Subsequent chapters alternate between the events leading up to Crater’s disappearance and flashbacks of recollections from the three female protagonists, Stella, Maria and Ritzi (the wife, the maid and the mistress) that shed light on their relationships with the judge and reveal his character to the reader. These glimpses into the past are marked by date and location so the reader has a chronological sense of how what we learn fits into the puzzle of events. It was sometimes unclear when the narration returned to the contemporary setting, most often it was obvious because we picked up right where we left off as the character began remembering but a few times it wasn’t.

I enjoyed the time period of this novel, the dark, gritty but also glamorous period during prohibition. Ritzi’s life as a chorus girl and her connections to the criminal underworld in New York City gave a lot of flavor to this novel. Though I found it difficult to care about the majority of characters in this story, Ritzi’s experiences were portrayed most realistically. I did find myself sympathizing with Stella Crater but the way she was portrayed was somewhat flat and unemotional. As was the case with most of the characters, despite the fact that they were people who had lived and breathed they didn’t come to life off the page.

Some of the dialogue felt less than authentic, especially the exchange between Jude Simon and Stella when he first comes out to Maine to interview her about the last time she saw her husband. Stella asks Jude if he knew her husband and he said he met his a few times, she then asks if he liked him and Jude replies “I didn’t know him enough to dislike him.” Which didn’t seem appropriate for the situation. Later in the conversation Stella reveal’s Joe’s infidelity and then asks Jude if he cheats on his wife. To which he responds “If you knew my wife, you’d understand that infidelity is something I’d never consider.” Which again seems if not inappropriate certainly insensitive, he seems to be implying that it’s Stella’s fault her husband cheated, and it’s also odd given the fact that his wife works as Stella’s maid, so she does know her.

Another issue I had was with Maria wearing her rosary as a necklace. Where I come from wearing a rosary as a necklace is a no-no, it’s not a necklace its intended to be used in prayer not in ornamentation. So, I’m wondering if wearing the rosary as a piece of jewelry is a regional or cultural tradition. Maria’s family was Spanish, her mother was from Barcelona. Perhaps that is a Spanish tradition, but for me every time I read that she had her rosary around her neck it felt wrong.

I was invested enough in the story to continue reading to find out what happened with these characters but I was disappointed that this story didn’t come to life for me. There was a lot to enjoy but this story didn’t have the emotional depth or the character development to allow it to rise to being a favorite novel for me.
Profile Image for Heather Fineisen.
1,184 reviews113 followers
February 23, 2014
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 fiction in the afterword. Snappy dialogue and flash back and flash forward narrative keep the story going, and succeeds in adding tension in developing a classic who done it or did anyone do it at all?
Profile Image for Ionia.
1,436 reviews67 followers
February 8, 2014
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 you to go read it.

Go. Read. It.

This book is a fictional account of Associate Justice Joseph Force Crater's 1930's disappearance and the involvement and the lingering effects it had on his wife, their maid and his mistress. Whilst, Crater was labeled as "The Missingest Man in New York," this imagining of his disappearance is so well crafted, one could almost believe the mystery has finally been solved. I have always held a certain fascination with this case, so when I saw the book, I was skeptical about how I would receive it. Fictional accounts can go either way, in my previous experience. What I found, was a wonderfully entertaining book that Ariel Lawhon must have done hours upon hours of research to put together. This book follows the facts of the original case with some liberties taken here and there for entertainment purposes. She has used these facts to build characters that are so real, you feel what they feel.

Hating a character has advantages. There is rarely anything more fulfilling than when you grow to despise a character throughout the course of a story and then get to watch as they unravel. This book is filled with both characters that you will grow to love (I loved Ritzi) and grow to despise.

I was taken with Ritzi, but I was also particularly interested in Stella. The author painted her as a strong woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it. Her character lingers in my mind even now, after finishing the book the day prior.

Another impressive thing was the author's ability to take real people from the case and give them a life of her own imagining. I was thrilled with her inclusion of the mob, as well as the sad plight of Vivian Gordon. Poor Jimmy Walker. Her attention to detail was fantastic, even having Joseph mention Stella's previous marriage, for anyone familiar with this case--the way they met was more than interesting--and the excerpts taken from "The Empty Robe," the much sensationalised memoir by Stella with assistance from Oscar Fraley.

The life she built for Maria was amazing, and in my opinion was the glue that held this story together and made it more of an emotional experience rather than just another "based on a real event" novel. The book made me cry. A lot.

The main reason I loved this novel, was the way the mystery unfolded. The alternating stories of Maria, Stella and Sally and those connected to them were not only interesting, but pieced together perfectly to create a truly unsolvable mystery. Even when I thought I had everything figured out, in the last few chapters, I was wrong. I love it when a book can keep me guessing for the duration.

I could go on for hours here, but I am trying to avoid any type of spoiler and this is a complex book. I highly recommend that you take the time to read it, you won't be sorry.

Overall opinion? This book is not likely to "pull a Crater" anytime soon.

I received this book as part of the Shereads.org group of bloggers. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Lilisa.
440 reviews63 followers
June 27, 2015
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 of the maid. Throw in the fact that the maid, Maria, is married to the detective who has been assigned to investigate the disappearance of Crater, and the storyline is a fantastic one that is taut, tense and riveting, with wonderfully developed characters and beautifully described details interspersed throughout the book that sets the tone for East Coast living back in the day. There is a depth to the writing as the author captures the relationships and nuances between the characters – the almost holding of one’s breath when the three women collide – superbly framed and delivered right up to the very end – where we can literally taste the nostalgia and feel the reluctant closure as the novel wraps up. A well-executed highly enjoyable novel by Ariel Lawhon complemented by the brilliant narration of Anne Marie Lee.
Profile Image for Nicole | The Readerly Report.
144 reviews46 followers
June 2, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Tasha .
1,057 reviews37 followers
October 30, 2017
A page-turner and an interesting take on what might have happened with the disappearance of Judge Crater which remains a mystery to this day. I enjoy reading about real historical people and what it might have been like in their lives and times. Certainly the author took some liberties as it's impossible to know every true detail but I appreciate the author notes in the back discussing her input and ideas.

Women were not always well-treated during that time, as we all know, so there were some difficult reading moments involving these three women but it was probably quite accurately done so it's all part of the story.

Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,782 reviews14.2k followers
January 14, 2014
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 information were of course his wife, his maid and his mistress. I did, however, have a problem with these characters. I felt that they were very predictable, in fact much of this book was, and one dimensional. Never quite felt that they stepped out of their supposed roles or images. Yet the book is entertaining, the feel of the 30's is credibly related and it is easy to get caught up in the action. Historical fiction fans will find much to like.
1,428 reviews51 followers
June 18, 2013
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 to read it sooner rather than later. The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wonderfully complex and well-written account using, fiction, historical fact, and a brilliant storyteller’s imagination to put the pieces together. I do think book discussion groups will enjoy The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress.
Profile Image for MaryannC Victorian Dreams .
494 reviews108 followers
February 21, 2014
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 this.
Profile Image for Mara.
105 reviews59 followers
February 7, 2014
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 clearly done her research in that respect!
Profile Image for S’s Reading World .
304 reviews10 followers
November 4, 2016
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!
Profile Image for Melissa Crytzer Fry.
333 reviews358 followers
March 27, 2014
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, SheReads.org).

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 sentences are worth savoring). It’s fiction, yet it’s based on a whole lot of research about the disappearance of New York City Judge Joseph Crater in the 1930s. The novel is all these things, but not just one of them: a fantastic anomaly.

It’s not a “hold on to the edge of your seat” mystery, but it IS a definite page-turner, as the reader becomes emotionally invested in these three women who have, somehow, become enmeshed in the life of this notorious judge. As the reader, I wanted to savor each character’s predicament and needed to know how each woman was connected to the other – or IF she was.

I’m amazed that this is Ariel Lawhon’s first book, as her skill with characterization is enviable. You will form your own opinions about each of the characters – Crater himself, his wife Stella, the showgirl Ritzi, and the maid Maria - but Lawhon will gently guide you into their lives and the secrets they share about the infamous judge. What happened to him? Who was really at the heart of the assumed foul play that sent him missing?

I continue to be amazed at the structure of the novel, too – almost a reverse-time narrative that puts all the pieces in the precise spots of the narrative to lead to a dramatic conclusion. (I did flip back and forth to be sure if I was reading the present story or a flashback – easy enough to do in print; maybe more difficult to track on an e-reader). But the ending … woo wee – I didn’t see that coming. Loved it.

I truly enjoyed this book, which really is testament to the author’s skill, as I generally have little interest in the 1930s time period. It just goes to show that, in the hands of a skilled writer, ANY topic can become of interest to ANY reader if done right. Lawhon has definitely achieved that notoriety in my mind. Highly recommend if you enjoy literary fiction, historical fiction, mystery and character-driven novels.
Profile Image for Rhiannon Johnson.
835 reviews249 followers
March 9, 2015
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 showgirl. Each of these women have problems that the other women have no concept of, but they are all linked in that they each have ties to Judge Joseph Crater.
The three storylines are all equally interesting. Often I find myself reading a book with multiple storylines and will rush through one storyline to get to the next. While I must admit that Ritzi (the mistress) was my favorite, Maria (the maid,) and Stella (the wife) each found themselves stuck in tough situations that I found myself squirming empathetically to find out what they were going to do. As for the judge.....I haven't loved to hate a character so much in a long time! Each time I thought I had figured out what really happened to him, the story took another turn. I was flipping the final pages with a passion to know what happened next while simultaneously savoring every word. I also especially loved the author's notes at the end of the novel supplying information about the characters and settings in the story because I found myself wondering throughout my reading which parts were true and which were provided through Lawhon's imagination.
The characters, settings, and multiple story angles made The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress the best reading vacation I have been on in a long time. So grab a copy, pour a glass of champagne, and prepare to travel back to noir 1930's New York.

** I received this book in exchange for an honest review **

Read my full review here: http://www.ivoryowlreviews.blogspot.c...
Profile Image for Jamie Lapeyrolerie .
512 reviews118 followers
October 21, 2020
After reading my friend Stacy’s review on this book, I immediately added it to my Goodreads list. Political scandal, mystery, the 1930s and based off a real life event? You know I’m in! So when my book club was picking our next book club book, I threw this one out and my friends thought it sounded just as intriguing as I did.

Here’s the thing you need to know. Once you finish this book you may or may not spend a significant amount of time going on an internet research spree. Because OF COURSE I need to know about the real case and all it entailed. Shady McShady. Just say no to the mob internet.

Sneaky Mrs. Lawhon. Sneaky! With engaging writing, twisting plots and SAY WHA? type moments, this book will keep you hooked from the first page and guessing until the last. Not only are there fantastic descriptions of the time period (think corruption, politics, Broadway and jazz clubs), Lawhon creates layered characters who keep you guessing, and whether or not you like them, you’re intrigued by them. I thought what Lawhon did with each woman (their stories and descriptions) was creative and so good!

Starting in 1969 and then flashing back to the time of the disappearance, the flashbacks and flashforwards work for this novel and add to the intrigue and surprises. I really enjoyed this one! It’s not the happiest of all stories, but history doesn’t always end up that way. It’s a time period I’m fascinated with and who isn’t intrigued by the power the mob had, along with the police and political corruption? There’s a quote I really REALLY want to share, but that would give it all away, so if you’ve read it, then we can chat and I’ll tell you my favorite quote :).

Did you know of the famous Joseph Crater’s disappearance? What are some of your favorite mob or political novels?

Originally posted at http://booksandbeverages.org/2014/07/...
Profile Image for Sterlingcindysu.
1,393 reviews51 followers
November 5, 2013
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 down the dates of the shows referenced. With details like that, she's not sloppy about making sure all the bases are covered. Except for the last page, I never had to go back to re-read something that didn't fit in or make sense.

Obviously this book is historical fiction, but halfway though I didn't know if it was supposed to be a mystery as well. Don't read it like that or you'll be tempted to flip ahead. Don't.

I wish there was more background story on the wife, Stella.

Aren't women clever!!
Profile Image for Ivana Hrenáková.
173 reviews14 followers
January 16, 2019
Zvláštna knižka. Je to krimi príbeh inšpirovaný skutočnými udalosťami - zmiznutím newyorského sudcu Joea Cratera, ktoré sa nikdy neobjasnilo a dnes už na svete nie je nikto, kto by poznal pravdu o jeho osude. Nečítalo sa to vôbec zle, New York za čias prohibície a jazz age bol super kulisou pre zamotaný príbeh, v ktorom všetci klamú a vy neviete, či postavy, ktorým fandíte, nie sú v skutočnosti to najväčšie zlo. Autorka v knihe v podstate predstavila svoju teóriu o tom, ako sa to celé zbehlo a kto je za sudcove zmiznutie zodpovedný. Vedomie, že to tak naozaj mohlo (ale aj nemuselo) byť, dodalo teda tomuto literárnemu zážitku ešte další rozmer. Zaujímavé čítanie.
Profile Image for Renée Rosen.
Author 9 books1,583 followers
May 7, 2014
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!
Profile Image for Sue Dix.
567 reviews20 followers
April 16, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Popy Tobing.
77 reviews6 followers
October 9, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Eva Thieme.
Author 1 book20 followers
February 19, 2015
I SO wanted to like this book. I like historical fiction, I liked the title, and I think it came pretty highly recommended and sounded promising.

But. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what was lacking. I think the main problem were the characters. They just didn't come alive. Never did I put the book down and then wondered what might happen next to these people. Never did I really feel their pain, even though theoretically there was plenty of pain to go around. They just didn't become real. They also didn't seem to grow, one of the main tenets of good fiction, the "coming-of-age" part. At times, it felt more like a children's book than adult fiction, although even children's books need good characters.

And the plot. Most of it is revealed after a few pages, and then the story mostly drags on. I found myself skimming some pages just to get to the part where something would actually happen again. There is a pretty big plot twist right at the very end but it didn't redeem the book to me. All of it felt as if the author was trying too hard, was doing all the right things one should do to come up with a good story, theoretically, but something important was missing. The story was just too flat, it didn't grip me at all.
Profile Image for Michelle Lane.
6 reviews
December 12, 2013
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 main characters.

I loved the fact that all 3 women were fully developed characters and I don't feel that any one of them was villianized, glorified, or given more moral fiber than the others.

There were moments where I felt the dialogue was a little stilted but that of corse is just my opinion. There are some passages where it reads like an old gangster flick - which I suppose is the point.

Over all it was a highly enjoyable read and I'm glad I had the opportunity view it's first run.
Profile Image for Londa.
169 reviews2 followers
June 13, 2014
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 surprise, and I was never bored with this tale of showgirls, bribes, and speakeasies.

My only complaint is about the format. Generally books that flip back and forth through a timeline don't bother me, but this one did. I kept losing track of what year it was and that was a bit irritating.

Overall, great story that I would recommend to most.
Profile Image for Rose.
199 reviews17 followers
April 27, 2017
I really wanted to like this more than I did. I thought it was an interesting take on a real-life story but I felt like it moved slower than I'd liked. I'm a fan of historical fiction and female protagonists - which describes this book completely but it just didn't engage me as much as I'd like.
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