The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon


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.

My Perspective

This is the twenty-third book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon from Ionia at Readful Things Blog. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a fictional story of what really happened to Judge Crater, who disappeared without a trace in 1930. It is from the point of view of the three women who would have known him the most; his wife, his maid and his mistress (as the title suggests).

I didn’t actually know that this story was based on true events, that Judge Crater was a real person who did disappear without a trace. I think I would have had a different mindset while reading it if I had known that.

The story was well written and interesting. It held my attention and the story unfolded at a steady pace.

The three women were all likeable and easy to root for. I did find Stella a bit aggravating at times though. Judge Crater and Owney Madden were extremely unlikeable characters.

I was a little bit disillusioned with the outcome of the story. I felt it fell a bit flat at the end and I was surprised at how obvious everything was both throughout the story as well as how it ended. I was expecting there to be more mystery and it to be a lot less predictable. It’s a bit of a shame because it would have been exceptional had this not let it down.

Overall it was an entertaining read that I would recommend to those who like murder mysteries, however it’s definitely not up there with the Agatha Christie novels.


Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha ChristieBlurb

The Orient Express was unusually full for the time of year. Hercule Poirot sat in the elegant restaurant-car and amused himself by observing his fellow passengers: a Russian princess of great ugliness, a haughty English colonel, an American with a strange glint in his eye . . . and many more. The food and company were most congenial and the little Belgian detective was looking forward to a pleasant journey.

But it was not to be. After a restless night, Poirot awoke to find that tragedy had struck. First, the train had been brought to a standstill by a huge snowdrift. Secondly, a passenger lay dead in his berth – murdered.

My Perspective

Awhile ago I was able to sift through a few boxes of books that my mother-in-law was giving away. One of the books was this one, and even though I’ve read it before, I can’t say no to owning and rereading any Agatha Christie novel!

Murder On The Orient Express is the story of how Hercule Poirot becomes the investigator of a murder that takes place on the train he is travelling on and how he solves it.

I vaguely remembered the story and the ending so things weren’t a huge mystery for me however I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Agatha Christie is a superb author so obviously it was well written with great character development and a clever storyline. I don’t think you can really fault her and to me a review on one of her books is a bit pointless!

Basically it was a fantastic read that I would highly recommend if you like murder mysteries. A classic whodunnit novel.

Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison


In Hannah Dennison’s Murder at Honeychurch Hall, Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house at Honeychurch Hall, an isolated country estate located several hundred miles from London.

Yet it seems that Iris isn’t the only one with surprises at Honeychurch Hall. Behind the crumbling façade, the inhabitants of the stately mansion are a lively group of eccentrics to be sure—both upstairs and downstairs —and they all have more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet.

When the nanny goes missing, and Vera, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead in the grotto, suspicions abound. Throw in a feisty, octogenarian countess, a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles, and a treasure trove of antiques, and there is more than one motive for murder.

As Iris’s past comes back to haunt her, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all. A when the bodies start piling up, it is up to Kat to unravel the tangled truth behind the murders at Honeychurch Hall.

My Perspective

This is the sixteenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison from Ionia at Readful Things Blog. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

Murder at Honeychurch Hall follows Kat Stanford as she travels to country England to look after her mother who has just broken her wrist soon after buying and moving into the carriage house on the Honeychurch Estate. Soon Kat finds herself caught up in the estate and its mysteries, which somehow has something to do with her mother.

The first chapter of this book was rather abrupt and kind of threw you in the deep end. I found the dialogue between Kat and her mother quite annoying and so unfortunately the book and I got off to a bad start. I don’t know I’d say that it fully redeemed itself either.

Kat is a bit of your cliche female protagonist. She’s fairly smart, has a passion for something a little unusual that has brought her fame, has a striking feature (that is beautiful of course) and is in a relationship where she is SO OBVIOUSLY being played. I wouldn’t say I disliked her, she had a down to earth sort of charm that helped me to bear with her. I quite liked her mother, whom although was again a bit cliche, was enjoyable. Richard was vomit inducing and cliche – come to think of it most of the other characters were all fairly cliche too. Maybe that was the point and I totally missed it.

The story was fairly well written and held mystery however I didn’t find it super original. Usually that doesn’t bother me however the story wasn’t actually interesting enough to hold up all the cliches and typical “murder mystery” scenario, I think it fell quite flat.

Overall (as you can probably tell), I was quite disappointed in this story as the premise seemed like it was going to be a great “Whodunit” kind of novel and it really wasn’t. Not a terrible read however definitely not the next Agatha Christie.

A Death Divided by Clare Francis

A Death Divided by Clare FrancisBlurb

Joe, struggling to survive his job in a high-powered law firm, is faced with the challenge of finding his childhood friend Jenna, who has been missing for four years. But has she disappeared through choice? Or is she under the powerful influence of her husband, the restless, troubled Chetwood?

For Joe, the search is a matter of duty, but also of conscience – for he introduced them to each other, he was enthralled by them both…

Helped by his prickly girlfriend, Sarah, Joe manages to find the beautiful, faded Jenna, only to realise too late that he has set some terrible events in motion…

My Perspective

This is the eleventh book i chose to read from my post Third Lot – And It’s A Lot

A Death Divided follows Joe and his renewed search for his childhood best friend, Jenna, having been approached by her parents after four years to try again. However does Jenna want to be found?

This book was interesting and had my curiosity piqued throughout. I wouldn’t say I couldn’t put it down however I definitely looked forward to when I could next pick it up.

Joe was extremely likeable however I felt that when it came to Jenna, he had a bit of a blind spot. I didn’t like Jenna at all. I thought she was a bit of a spoilt brat before the accident and a martyr afterwards. I really liked Sarah despite everything. Chetwood was a mystery to me – I don’t know whether I liked him or not.

Although the book kept me interested, I did find that the pace was quite slow and that there was a lot of content for not that much story. However I don’t think that’s a fault necessarily as I wasn’t bored throughout and I wanted to keep reading.

The mystery was well written and it had me fooled right until the very end.

Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it those who like a slower paced mystery.

Kiss The Girls by James Patterson

Kiss The Girls by James PattersonBlurb

Alex Cross is about to be thrust into a case he will never forget. This time there isn’t just one killer, there are two. One collects beautiful, intelligent women on college campuses on the east coast of the USA. The other is terrorising Los Angeles with a series of unspeakable murders. But the truly chilling news is that the two brilliant and elusive killers are communicating, cooperating, competing.

My Perspective

This is the tenth book i chose to read from my post Third Lot – And It’s A Lot

Kiss The Girls follows detective Alex Cross as he tries to track down Casanova, a psychopath killer who is abducting beautiful college students including Alex’s niece, Naomi. However in his search he discovers that Casanova is in cahoots with another psychopath killer on the other side of America, The Gentleman Caller. Will Alex be able to bring them both down and before his niece is killed?

I’d never read a James Patterson novel before and was curious to see what his book was like because he’s so well known. I was also curious because my Dad and Step-Mum really like his novels and I’ve been buying them for their birthday and Christmas presents for as long as I can remember.

The premise of the story was pretty gruesome and to be honest, not really my cup of tea. It was however, very well written and the gore factor was kept to the minimum considering the heinous acts that were committed.

I quite enjoyed his writing style and as most chapters are fairly short, your interest is always kept. The action was well paced and I have to say that I thought I had it figured out but was completely wrong so it definitely wasn’t predictable.

I really liked Alex, especially the relationship he had with his children. I wasn’t sure what I thought of Kate. I couldn’t really relate to her so I found it hard to really be rooting for her.

There was some sexual content however it wasn’t explicit – it was in the context of rape though so if that bothers you then you might not cope with this book.

Overall I can’t really say that I enjoyed this book because the story line was quite disturbing however it was definitely a well written novel that kept my interest throughout. I would recommend it to those who don’t mind a mystery/thriller/crime fiction with a bit of a gruesome plot.

Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart

Rose Cottage by Mary StewartBlurb

When Kate Herrick’s grandmother asks her to travel down from Scotland to her childhood home in Todhall to retrieve some papers and family mementoes before Rose Cottage is sold, Kate is happy enough to go, but curious as to the changes she may find there. Widowed in the recent war – this is the summer of 1947 – and comfortably settled now in London, she is in some doubt as to how the village will receive her. Rose Cottage – a tiny thatched dwelling with fragrant roses in the garden – is unchanged, and the villagers seem friendly. But there is evidence of a break-in at the cottage, and then her nearest neighbours, three elderly ladies from what the villagers call ‘Witches’ Corner’, come with tales of night-time prowlers in the cottage garden, and even ghosts. In the process of solving the mystery, Kate finds romance.

My Perspective

This is the eleventh book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart from Penny at Life On The Cutoff. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

Rose Cottage is about Kate or Kathy, who at a request from her grandmother, travels down to the home of her childhood to collect the special items hidden in the safe there that her grandmother left behind. However her grandmother has forgotten where she has hidden the key.

I really enjoyed this story and although it was slightly predictable and happily ever after, it was still interesting and sweet with some good old mystery.

Kate (or Kathy) was very easy to like, as were most of the other characters.

There was a whimsical, kind of old world charm about the book and I can see why Penny loved it so much – there were some gorgeous descriptions of landscapes, gardens and flora.

Overall it was a lighthearted, short read with a bit of mystery and romance that I enjoyed and would definitely recommend.

Still Waters by Judith Cutler

Still Waters by Judith CutlerBlurb

Detective Chief Superintendent Fran Harman takes charge of the inquiry into the mysterious death of Alec Minton, whose body is found beneath his hotel window, but something doesn’t add up. If he jumped to his death, would he really have had a cup of tea just moments before? And if he was pushed out of the window, where are the signs of forced entry to his room? Harman must discover the truth even through her new boss seems determined to undermine her at every turn.

My Perspective

This is the seventh book i chose to read from my post Third Lot – And It’s A Lot

Still Waters follows DCS Fran Harman, as she investigates both a suicide that doesn’t make sense and a three year old murder case that’s up for review, the body having never been found and the two men sent to prison for the crime being possibly innocent all along. However her new boss, DCC Simon Gates has another agenda for her including possible retirement unless she does as he wants.

Still Waters was a steady paced, light crime novel that kept your interest yet was still nice and gentle.

Fran is extremely likeable as are many of the other characters however there are some extremely unlikeable characters as well that made my blood boil. It also annoyed me how weak Mark was went it came to his daughter.

The plot wasn’t predictable per se however I had a feeling where it was all headed. There were a few surprises throughout that I didn’t see coming and I soon realised that even some of the most trivial details were in fact essential parts to the plot.

The only major gripe I have with the book is that I felt that not a lot was actually resolved in the end. I get the very end scene however I’m more talking about the crimes that Fran was trying to solve. They weren’t really wrapped up and even though I understand some questions can’t be answered, it would have been nice to have the ones that could.

Overall the book was a light, enjoyable read that I would recommend to those like a steady paced mystery/crime fiction.

At Risk by Stella Rimington

At Risk by Stella RimingtonBlurb

For MI5 Intelligence Officer Liz Carlyle the nagging complications of her private life are quickly forgotten at Monday’s Counter-Terrorist meeting. An invisible may have entered mainland Britain.

An ‘invisible’ – a terrorist who is an ethnic native of the target country, who can cross its borders unchecked and move about unnoticed – is the ultimate nightmare.

For Liz this signals the start of an operation that will test her to the limit. Who or what is the target? Where and who is the invisible? With each passing hour the danger increases. But as she desperately sifts the incoming intelligence and analyses the reports from her agents she finally realises that it is her ability to get inside her enemy’s head that is the only hope of averting disaster.

My Perspective

This is the sixth book i chose to read from my post Third Lot – And It’s A Lot

At Risk is about Liz, an MI5 Agent Runner who becomes involved in the investigation of a shooting in country England and feels it has a connection to the “invisible” MI6 thinks has crossed into the UK. However will Liz be able to connect all the dots in time to prevent a terrorist attack?

The story started off quite slowly and took awhile to really get going. It didn’t start to get super interesting until probably half way through. I think the slow build up of character development and background information was essential however a little bit of it could have been cut out. There were just some parts that just seemed to be irrelevant, especially looking back when you are able to see the picture as a whole. Overall the slow buildup was clever, like a jigsaw puzzle coming together. At first you have just a bunch of random clues and information however slowly they start to link together to create a bigger picture.

I liked Liz. She was strong, independent and smart. However also friendly and down to earth.

I really, really liked that there was no romance theme throughout the story. Sure, there were moments of sexual tension between characters however they were few and far between. It was refreshing to read a crime fiction novel without any of that angle in it.

I did find it a little confusing at the beginning when it switched between characters because there were so many in the book. I kept losing track of who was who. Eventually I found my way however I did reference back quite a bit to earlier chapters to get my bearings so to speak. Like I mentioned above, you definitely can’t rush the beginning of this book as there is a lot of background information to take in.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I would definitely recommend it those who like crime fiction however not so much if you like it super fast paced. This was slower however had a lot more meat to it so you are more rewarded at the end.

Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline

Killer Smile by Lisa ScottolineBlurb

A World War II suicide in an internment camp has ominous links to an on-going murder case . . .

Attorney Mary DiNunzio gets a terrifying telephone call while she’s working late, then she finds a shadow lurking at her front door. When a lawyer very close to her turns up dead, Mary begins to suspect that there is a sinister connection with the case she’s been working on . . .

Add to that the fact that everybody around Mary has decided she’s not allowed to be a Young Widow anymore, and they’re fixing her up with blind dates from hell. When a killer comes after her, it’s more than any girl can handle – but Mary isn’t just any girl . . .

My Perspective

This is the last book i read from my post Second Lot

Killer Smile is about Mary, an Italian lawyer who works for Rosato & Associates. She is working pro bono on a case involving a deceased estate however the further she digs, the more the mystery deepens. Soon her involvement becomes unpopular and she starts getting followed and threatened.

I’m in two minds about this book. It had some clear strong and clear weak points.

I mostly liked Mary’s character however there were times when she really did frustrate me. She was very stubborn and one track minded.

I really enjoyed the Italian influence in this story. It added something extra and obviously the talk of food made my mouth water.

The book wasn’t very fast paced. It had some heart stopping moments throughout however the suspense was built slowly.

There was a lot of mystery throughout and it kept me guessing. I did find though that the book was way too long. At the halfway point I felt like it should have been the end. There were some great highlights throughout however there seemed to be a lot of content and it dragged. It might have worked if the story had another main character to break it up a bit however I found it too much the way it was.

Overall it was an enjoyable mystery and I would recommend it however not if you’re looking for a quick, suspenseful, can’t turn the pages quick enough, read.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate MortonBlurb

It started with a letter. A letter that had been lost a long time, waiting out half a century, in a forgotten postal bag in the dim attic of a nondescript house in Bermondsey . . .

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long-lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret.

Evacuated from London as a thirteen-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters and their father, Raymond, author of a 1918 children’s classic, The True History of the Mud Man. In the grand and glorious Milderhurst Castle, a new world opens up for Edie’s mother. She discovers the joys of books and fantasy and writing, but also, ultimately, the dangers.

Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother’s riddle, she, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric Sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

For it is said, you know, that a letter will always seek a reader; that sooner or later, like it or not, words have a way of finding the light, of making their secrets known.

My Perspective

I bought the The Distant Hours at a garage sale for $2 I think. Such a bargain!

The book is about Edith Burchill, a young lady who works in publishing and has never really connected with her mother. One day a letter turns up for her mother, and from that moment the secrets and puzzles of the past start to unravel.

The story was cleverly written alternating between the present and the past and from a few different perspectives. It also changed from being first person for Edith and third person for everyone else. At first I found this a little challenging to read however it made a lot of sense to do it that way and I soon became used to the switching styles.

Edith or Edie as she’s mainly known, was a likeable character that I was able to connect with fairly well. Her mother frustrated me at the beginning however as the book went on and what she’d carried for so many years was revealed, I was able to understand where she had been coming from. I also appreciated how her character grew and was able to move on. I liked Edie’s Dad and Herbert, her boss. The Blythe sisters left me with many different emotions, all which kept changing as the book went on.

The story was very interesting and there was a lot of mystery throughout and different threads intertwined together. It was definitely hard to put down.

The book is quite sad and even though it didn’t make me cry as such, it certainly leaves a bit of a depressing mark on you.

There was a lot of vivid description throughout and it is written in a very abstract way. At first I found it a bit bewildering however I soon adjusted. If you like straightforward writing then you might struggle with enjoying this. I think it melds well with the rest of the story.

I enjoyed reading this book, I enjoyed the mystery and secrets. I did find it sad and without spoiling the ending, I was a bit like, “Why?! Why?!”

I would definitely recommend this book for those who like family saga, drama, and mystery. Although this was superbly written, The Forgotten Garden is still my favourite Kate Morton book.