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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  2,923 ratings  ·  548 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 (first published January 1st 2014)
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The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. RoseWritten in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana GabaldonA Burnable Book by Bruce HolsingerA King's Ransom by Sharon Kay PenmanThe King's Curse by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction 2014
34th out of 365 books — 2,221 voters
Red Rising by Pierce BrownThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahonThe Martian by Andy WeirThe Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew QuickThe Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
5th out of 11 books — 24 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
'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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is a 3.5 star book. I haven't decided yet whether to round up or down.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 enjoyed this book quite a bit. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, since it's based on a historical event (i.e., the disappearance of a New York judge, Joseph Crater, in 1930 and the subsequent fallout. Since that case was never actually solved, this is completely fiction, reimagining the disappearance as seen through the eyes of three women in his life: his wife, Stella; his mistress, Ritzi; and his maid, Maria. The narration jumps around between the three women, showing the aftermath of hi ...more
A slice of life in 1930s New York amongst the corrupt - politicians, gangsters, theater - and the women who loved them. I peeked at the wiki page about the missing judge that this story is based upon and the plot pretty much follows along with the information there. The women really do get the short shrift here and the men - well they are mostly pretty evil. Well written, although some of the time shifts are a bit awkward until you get the hang of them. It is definitely a clever approach to tell ...more
Excellent book...I enjoyed the audio version but in this case I think I would've liked the book form even better. With the flashbacks, it was a bit hard to keep track through the audio. Also, I didn't realize going into it that it was based on a true story. In fact, if I hadn't found it written in other reviews, I never would've known. The audio never read the author's note at the end telling me this and explaining which parts were true & false in the back. That's a huge disappointment to a ...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons. She is the author of THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS (2014) and HINDENBURG (2016) both published by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human hear ...more
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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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