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A Circle of Wives
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A Circle of Wives

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  4,457 Ratings  ·  607 Reviews
* An Indie Next Pick
* A LibraryReads Selection
* An Amazon Best Book of the Month (Mysteries & Thrillers)
* A Daily Candy Best Book of March
* One of More Magazine’s "Five Thrillers Not to Read After Dark"

When Dr. John Taylor turns up dead in a hotel room, the local police uncover enough incriminating evidence to suspect foul play. Detective Samantha Adams, whose Palo Alt
Hardcover, 325 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Patrice Hoffman
The idea that we never quite know who we've chosen to live the rest of our lives with is always an interesting mystery. Many of the best mystery novels are built on this premise and have maybe influenced those with eyes wide shut to get a grip. A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante explores this topic and turns it on its head.

A prominent reconstruction surgeon is found dead in an upscale hotel. At first glance, it appears the deceased has died of an apparent heart attack. After closer inspection,
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I couldn't wait to get my hands on Circle of Wives. It promised all the things I like in a book. An interesting premise, a psychological tale and exploration of holy matrimony.

A doctor is found dead in a hotel room. At first look Dr. John Taylor, appears to be the victim of a heart attack. Very quickly there's enough evidence for police to investigate the death as murder. Dr. John Taylor is a famed plastic surgeon, married for many years to Deborah, who on the service seems quite nice but who b
Diane S ☔
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it
2.5 A man is dead. A rookie detective is on the case. What appears at first to be a heart attack, may not be once it is known that the man had three wives. How was he able to fool these women into thinking they were the only one? Or did he?

I loved her first novel, thought it was original, well Written and well executed. This one reminded me of a story in the National Enquirer, yes, there are a few twists and turns but for the most part this book did not grab me at all. News articles and all, I f
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
At the beginning I liked detective Samantha Adams. Her honesty about her shortcomings and the way she approached the investigation , even her descriptions of her boyfriend's peculiarities.

At first the novel made me smile more often than not, in spite of the plot : three women married to a man who is murdered.
However, as I continued reading and discovering new facts about the three wives , their present and past lives and their relationship with a very charismatic but moody husband, I felt that t
Dec 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible-cd, 2015
I read... or listened to this back in Jan or February and thought I had done a review, but apparently not. Does that mean it was not rememberable? Maybe.

There is a murder, and we learn that there are three wives and wonder which of them did the dirty deed. Entertaining? Yes. Great writing? Ah...maybe? Suspense? Some.

This is the type of book you take on vacation. A quick and entertaining read, nothing too intense. I enjoyed the character development, though I did not really like the characters.I
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Lots of twists and turns. You don't find out what really happened to John until the end. John has three wives who don't know about each other until he is murdered. Very well written and interesting.
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
The first 50 pages had me going, I was very interested...then it didn't go anywhere, I couldn't connect with any of the characters and the ending was not a surprise to me.
Feb 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Hm. I read “Turn of Mind,” LaPlante’s earlier novel, and I came away so satisfied—I’m now wondering if my opinion was tainted by my interest in books about Alzheimer’s victims. Because “Circle of Wives” is a book that didn’t leave me satisfied, and it’s a book I’ll forget in no time. In fact, I’m worried that its boring essence will lead to a boring review. How can I write a passionate review when I have such a boring taste in my mouth?

This book is about the murder of a polygamist who had lived
Mar 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Although nicely written this book is not terribly suspenseful. The wives are one dimensional and Samantha is bumbling and unprofessional. I suppose I was most bothered by the depiction of women as being dumb and so desperate to catch and keep a successful man they fail to question the obvious. It is a quick read that provides mild entertainment. Unfortunately, the premise of this book was totally unbelievable from the start. Even if John Taylor had ADD with extreme hyperactivity and never rested ...more
Minty McBunny
Mar 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014, august-2014
I have to congratulate Ms LaPlante on her ability to take a very interesting premise and transform it into a flaccid, lifeless and utterly dull murder mystery. I give it 1.5 stars only because I did manage to drag myself through it in order to find out who the killer was. And even that was a disappointment, as it was the most obvious suspect. Really a remarkably boring "thriller".
This was definitely not as good as Turn of Mind. It was, however, a subtly suspensful read that explored the psychology of the multiple wives as well as the detective, Samantha. I use "subtly" because it was not exactly a page-turner. I kinda had the murderer figured out pretty early on, but it was fun reading how LaPlante choose to get the reader there.

The multiple points of view approach was a good choice. Four voices, each of the wives plus Detective Samantha Adams (no beer references, she s
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a second book following Alice LaPlante's best selling debut novel, Turn of Mind. Circle of Wives is a psychological thriller of martial deception, revenge, and murder. The narrator is Samantha, a detective with the Palo Alto Police department living with her boyfriend of ten years. When a body is discovered in the Westin hotel, she is sent as the investigator. At first, the man seems to have died from a heart attack, but a postmortem shows bruising and a needle mark. The verdict is murde ...more
Karin Slaughter
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really good read, though the murder plotting side of the story wasn't very tight, and I didn't find the young woman believable as a seasoned cop (her voice was too tentative). Overall, I just love the way LaPlante writes about cold, scientific women.

Though she shouldn't write about southerners. Some of the colloquialisms were laughably off.
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Alice LaPlante’s second book, A Circle of Wives, is excellent. I love her writing style because her characters have authentic and original voices. This is one of the few fictional books I’ve truly enjoyed this year.

Dr. John Taylor is found dead in an upscale hotel room. The police aren’t sure if it’s murder, but they don’t think it was a heart attack either. Young and recently promoted Detective Samantha Adams is in charge of the case, her first suspicious death. In her quiet and wealthy Palo A
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-books
3.5 out of 5 stars

Having just read an advance copy of Jennifer Murphy's "I Love You More" I was curious to see how Alice LaPlante would tackle her novel about three women who all discover they've been "married" to the same, recently deceased man. (Side note, men with multiple wives... maybe these two novels should be treated as cautionary tales; in both the husband is no longer in the land of the living.) Both books focus on unraveling the mystery of the husband's death, though LaPlante takes a
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-review
ARC for review - received as part of Goodreads First Reads program.

A solid 3.5 stars for this, my second LaPlante this month....and there's a clear pattern here. LaPlante writes mysteries a la Jodi Picoult but here the character studies are far more important than the whodunit reveal (which both here and in Turn of Mind were rather underwhelming). We learn quickly that Dr. John Taylor has turned up dead, possibly murdered, in a Palo Alto hotel room and then we learn that he had three wives and
Full review at Smoke & Mirrors: Great book. I was reminded of The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress and In the Woods. I like the fact it isn't all tied up nicely and neatly. I like the interwoven realizations as Sam works her way through this case, especially with regard to her own relationship. It really is that old question in some ways...what is it like to be "in love"? And is it necessary for a "successful"/"happy" relationship? What a tangled web ...more
Dec 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rounded up 3.5 stars. This is another very readable story by Alice LaPlante, but perhaps not her best.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Story line is interesting, but I have a real issue with authors who do not do their research, esp. in a crime novel. LaPlante is a college writing instructor, writing 101 is to know your subject. So, just in the set-up of the story. MJ is from Gatlinburg, this would not be a TN community known for white trash or meth use. If you write about a real location, do your research and still expect to offend people from that area, with your consistent and un-needed jabs. Secondly, she states that many b ...more
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A Palo Alto plastic surgeon is found dead in an upscale hotel room, apparently of a heart attack. But further investigation reveals that foul play has been involved.

Detective Samantha Adams has been assigned to the case, and the more she digs into the matter, the more complicated it all becomes. For Dr. John Taylor has not only one wife, Deborah, a society matron, but two others: M.J. Taylor and Alice Richter. And supposedly it was all okay with Wife Number One, who had apparently helped orchest
Apr 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Only upon his death in a hotel room, under possibly suspicious circumstances, did two women realize that their husband actually already had one wife ... who knew about both of them. As Detective Sam(antha) Adams tries to unravel the truth, and relationships, between Deborah (wife #1), MJ (wife #2), Helen (wife #3), and Claire (surprise fiancee and possible cause of divorce), the reader gets the perspective of (almost) all of these women. The jump from character to character makes for some short ...more
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erika Nerdypants
I'm reaching at 2 stars, according to the Goodreads rating system. This was only barely okay, which after "Turn of Mind", was a huge disappointment. As a mystery, this falls short in many departments. Even with considerable suspension of disbelief, the plot of one man married to four wives without anyone being the wiser simply doesn't hang together. This could make the premise of a good story, but there are too many main characters, with none of them being developed. In fact they all seemed ster ...more
Mar 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: she-reads
After reading The Goldfinch I was looking for something witty and fun for an escape. I saw good reviews for Circle of Wives and initially was not disappointed. The premise of an altruistic surgeon, who turns up murdered and trapped in an unhappy marriage fit the bill. In concert with his wife of 35 years he embarks upon marriages with two other women to complete his life. As wife number one says, the relationship created a perfect marriage and a balanced life. The novel is told from the perspect ...more
Apr 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I hesitate to call this book a thriller. It really wasn't, in that the resolution to the murder didn't matter all that much. In fact, it was fairly predictable. What I liked about the book was the format, seeing events from the many different perspectives, each in its own way poignant. These were all such damaged people, which is why the deceased, John Taylor, was able to get them settle for so little. It was really very sad.

The book moves at a fast pace, helped by the short format chapters. Th
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: august-2015
A classic " who done it". Even though I figured it out early I still enjoyed the story and how she brought it to a conclusion. No blood, guts or gore here, just a simple who killed Thomas Taylor and why. An interesting premise and well written story.
Marianne K
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! It's a quick read with a satisfying ending. An added bonus is that it's a mystery.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: finished-fiction
The author had me interested at first, then it just started laying out flat and boring. I definitely didn't like the detective and finally the way all of these wives allowed this man to be in their lives so little but were obviously controlled by him---well, that is just not interesting---and is it really believable that this accomplished surgeon with a busy practice also had a full life with all of these wives and none of them ever crossed paths or were interested enough in his life to go to hi ...more
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Everyone has something to hide. When you end up murdered in some hotel room, just about everything you were hiding comes out. Dr. John Taylor, 62 years old, renowned plastic surgeon from Palo Alto, California, was found in a room at the Westin Hotel. At first it would appear to be a heart attack. A closer look tells a different story. Who would want to kill this respected and admired surgeon who founded a clinic to reconstruct the faces of disfigured children?

Maybe one of his clinic partners? M
Jul 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
I chose this book because it got an A- review in Entertainment Weekly and involves polygamy. Perfect combo for me! This book is different from the other polygamy books I've read in that most of the wives don't know the others exist. Although I wouldn't rate this as high as EW did, I found this to be a quick and entertaining read. It did require some suspension of disbelief to fully enjoy however. Unless John never slept, it was difficult to imagine how he kept up the ruse for as long as he did. ...more
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Alice LaPlante is an award-winning writer of both fiction and non-fiction. She teaches creative writing at Stanford University, where she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer. She also teaches in the MFA program at San Francisco State University. Her fiction has been widely published in Epoch, Southwestern Review, and other literary journals. Alice is the author of five books, including ...more
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“Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” 2 likes
“Anybody can become angry—that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” 1 likes
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