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

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

Blurb

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.

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The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

Blurb

One letter will turn newly-married Grace Munroe’s life upside down: ‘Our firm is handling the estate of the deceased Mrs Eva D’Orsey and it is our duty to inform you that you are named as the chief beneficiary in her will.’ So begins a journey which leads Grace through the streets of Paris and into the seductive world of perfumers and their muses. An abandoned perfume shop on the Left Bank will lead her to unravel the heartbreaking story of her mysterious benefactor, an extraordinary woman who bewitched high society in 1920s New York and Paris.

My Perspective

This is the twenty-second book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro from Ionia at Readful Things Blog. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

The Perfume Collector is about Grace, a young newlywed living in London, England in the 1950s and how she finds herself the sole beneficiary of a deceased Parisian woman’s estate of whom she’d never met. She decides to stay in Paris awhile to find out who this lady really was however the more she learns, the more she finds there is to untangle.

I love a good mystery and although this one was rather predictable, the telling of the tale with all its intricate details was highly enjoyable.

Grace was a fairly easy character to like. There were moments where I found her frustrating however considering the upheaval happening in her life, it would be unrealistic if she didn’t have moments of weakness and unwise decision making. I didn’t find it easy to like Eva however I found it hard not to admire her. She had it tough, her life was far from easy and she kept fighting all the way. Monsieur Tissot was a dream! Probably too unrealistic 😉

The story was rich in detail and description, with fascinating settings, delicious food and overall beauty and depth. It was hard not to be immersed.

There were some slight sexual references in the book (including rape) however as a said, it is very slight so enough to make me uncomfortable and to mention it however not enough to warrant me feeling the need to stop reading the book.

It was well written, interesting and kept you turning the pages. I would definitely recommend this book if you like historical fiction.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas Pere

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas PereBlurb

This swashbuckling epic of chivalry, honor, and derring-do, set in France during the 1620s, is richly populated with romantic heroes, unattainable heroines, kings, queens, cavaliers, and criminals in a whirl of adventure, espionage, conspiracy, murder, vengeance, love, scandal, and suspense. Dumas transforms minor historical figures into larger- than-life characters: the Comte d’Artagnan, an impetuous young man in pursuit of glory; the beguilingly evil seductress “Milady”; the powerful and devious Cardinal Richelieu; the weak King Louis XIII and his unhappy queen—and, of course, the three musketeers themselves, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, whose motto “all for one, one for all” has come to epitomize devoted friendship. With a plot that delivers stolen diamonds, masked balls, purloined letters, and, of course, great bouts of swordplay, The Three Musketeers is eternally entertaining.

My Perspective

The Three Musketeers follows d’Artagnan, a young Frenchman, as he journeys to Paris to join the King’s Musketeers. He soon becomes firm friends with three of the King’s Musketeers whilst entangling himself in the political war between the King, the Cardinal and the Queen.

I really enjoyed this book.

It was fairly slow to start off with and the language took a bit of getting used to however once d’Artagnan was in Paris, it started to flow a lot more smoothly.

Although young and a bit foolhardy, d’Artagnan is easy to like. His companions, Athos, Porthos and Aramis are extremely likeable and the more you read, the more you feel a part of their friendship group. They are both honourable and courageous as well as arrogant and pleasure seekers. I pitied the Queen, thought the King was spineless, and the Cardinal both cruel and intriguing. I absolutely loathed and abhorred Milady. I wondered what on earth happened to her to create such a monster of a person.

The story was long and fairly detailed and although it had a steady pace, most of the time it had me hardly able to put it down. It was quite complex due to its political nature and there were times that I got a bit lost however it was so interesting that I didn’t mind that at all. It had action, some romance, intrigue and drama – all what make a great novel.

I enjoyed the way in which it was written, it was fairly unique with the author’s tidbits throughout.

Overall I really enjoyed the story and I would definitely recommend it if you like historical fiction.

 

A Punctual Paymaster by Dan Groat

A Punctual Paymaster by Dan GroatBlurb

A TOWN DIVIDED BY RACE IS HIDING A MIRACLE AMONG ITS SECRETS

Travel seventy years through the secrets of the white Thanos family and the black Taylor family, twisted like strands of yarn woven together on a loom. The wealthy, powerful Nikkos Thanos owns a woolen mill and almost everything else on the north side of Delphi, Missouri, and is the overseer of a fractured society. The brave, judicious Thaddeus “Cousin” Taylor owns a grocery store and a tavern on the south side and carries a past hauntingly shrouded in tragedy. Each man tries to shepherd his part of town through the turmoil of racism, the depression, and war. With the passage of time, those caretaker roles are filled by Evangelina, Nikkos’ beautiful and strong-willed daughter, and T.J., the grandson who worshipped Cousin. Forty-five years after high school, two friends, Ab and Grady, return for the funeral of their mentor, T.J., and walk into the middle of a mystery. They unweave the black and white threads that are the town’s concealed, troubled past, revealing an extraordinary tapestry of life and death, revenge and triumph.

My Perspective

I downloaded this eBook for free on Amazon awhile back.

The story follows the history of two families, the Thanos family and the Taylor family. The Thanos family are white and live on the north side of town, a town that has basically been built by Nikkos, the father of the Thanos family. The Taylor family are black and live on the south side of town and Cousin, the father of the Taylor family, is basically the unofficial leader of the south side. The story is set from 1939 through to 2010 and spans around three generations of the families. It deeply explores the racial tension between whites and blacks in America through a story filled with mystery, intrigue, sadness and redemption.

I had really high hopes for this book because the premise sounded so interesting however i felt it fell a bit flat. It started out really strong and then got a bit lost on the way.

The characters were really interesting however some of them could have been developed a lot more. Even though some of them had a lot of “air time”, i still felt like i barely knew them.

Most of the book was slow paced with a lot of content, the kind of book that doesn’t have you turning the pages as fast as you can, more the kind of book that you slowly digest and can even put down for awhile to process before picking it back up again. The pace wasn’t very consistent though, with big jumps in time and disconnect between chapters where you weren’t really sure what was going on.

I wasn’t sure whether the mystery of the story was meant to be obvious to the reader or not, because i found it was a bit predictable. If that was the intention of the author then it worked well because you wondered whether the characters would be able to figure it out or not and how the story would end – them living the rest of their lives never knowing or them being fully aware of their history and moving forward from it.

Overall it was a good story with a lot of depth and richness however I think it could have benefited from a lot more editing. I would probably still recommend it, especially if you like historical fiction, in particular novels about the racial tension in the USA.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

29485885Blurb

A mysterious seaman hides at a country inn; cut-throats raid a sleepy English village; suddenly, young Jim Hawkins becomes the owner of a map leading to a lost tropical island and a fortune in stolen gold. Three adventurers–Jim, Squire Trelawney, and Dr. Livesey–set out to find the treasure. — But they trust the one they should most fear, Long John Silver. Charming, brave, ruthless, murderous, Silver fills the squire’s ship with pirates. And on the desolate, fever-infested island, the quest for gold becomes a deadly war of hide and seek. Desperate defenders against merciless killers battling over a cursed treasure won with blood, buried with blood, sought with blood. Incredible wealth that Jim and his friends can only claim…

My Perspective

Treasure Island is the story of how Jim Hawkins came to be in possession of a treasure map and the journey and adventure he went on with Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney to acquire it.

I’m really in the mood for adventure stories at the moment so this is exactly what I felt like reading.

I really liked Jim. He was an easygoing young man, eager to please, hardworking, quick thinking and he had a lot of courage. Doctor Livesey was also an easy character to like whether Squire Trelawney I found a bit too freely spoken and over confident. John Silver was friendly and very easy to like, which of course made me suspicious. The rest of the crew were typical pirates, or “buccaneers”, self interested, not too smart, violent and drunk on rum all the time.

The story was very interesting and well paced, keeping you on your toes and turning the pages quickly. I did find some of the language hard to understand at times however it added to the feel of the story so I wouldn’t change it.

Overall it was a really enjoyable story, well written and full of adventure. I would definitely recommend it if you like classics, adventure stories or historical fiction.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafonBlurb

It is 1945 and Barcelona is enduring the long aftermath of civil war when Daniel Sempere’s bookseller father decides his son is old enough to visit the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There Daniel must ‘adopt’ a single book, promising to care for it and keep it alive always. His choice falls on The Shadow of the Wind.

Bewitched, he embarks on an epic quest to find the truth about Julian Carax, the book’s mysterious author. Soon Daniel is consumed by strange discoveries about love and obsession, art and life, and how they become entangled within the shadow world of books.

My Perspective

The Shadow of the Wind is about how Daniel as a ten year old boy, is taken to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his Father and where he finds a novel by Julian Carax, The Shadow of the Wind. He soon discovers that the book is quite sought after, especially by a faceless man who smells of burnt paper. As a young man, he decides to find out more about Julian Carax however the more he digs, the deeper the mystery and the more trouble he finds himself in.

This book was recommended by one of my customers.

The story was really quite fascinating and unusual. It was written quite differently too – it didn’t flow smoothly, it was quite stilted. However I found this really worked in with the theme and mood of the book, which was a bit dark and mysterious.

I liked Daniel. He was slightly frustrating at times however he was young and naive. The other characters were well written and rich in depth.

The story really made you want to discover Barcelona. There were some great descriptions throughout and a lot of the writing was rich and colourful.

The book had plenty of mystery and intrigue however there were some parts where I was slightly confused. I also predicted some of the major mysteries, which I was slightly disappointed that I saw them coming. There was a lot of others that I didn’t though so it did keep me on my toes.

The book was really interesting and kept me turning the pages.

I would definitely recommend this book if you like historical fiction with a gothic feel to it.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

The Secret Keeper by Kate MortonBlurb

1961: On a sweltering summer’s day, while her family picnics by the stream on their Suffolk farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel hides out in her childhood tree house dreaming of a boy called Billy, a move to London, and the bright future she can’t wait to seize. But before the idyllic afternoon is over, Laurel will have witnessed a shocking crime that changes everything.

2011: Now a much-loved actress, Laurel finds herself overwhelmed by shades of the past. Haunted by memories, and the mystery of what she saw that day, she returns to her family home and begins to piece together a secret history. A tale of three strangers from vastly different worlds – Dorothy, Vivien and Jimmy – who are brought together by chance in wartime London and whose lives become fiercely and fatefully entwined.

My Perspective

The Secret Keeper is mainly about Dorothy “Dolly” Smitham’s life and how nearing the end of it, Dolly’s eldest daughter Laurel, starts digging into the past to find out her mother’s secrets of the life she led before she was married – specifically how the event Laurel witnessed as a teenager came to be.

The Secret Keeper was written in true Kate Morton style – a complex family saga spanning over a couple of generations with plenty of drama, mystery and twists and turns.

I really did not like Dolly. More so from before she was married than after. She was so selfish and so self absorbed. It took so much tragedy for her to realise how much she truly had. I really liked Laurel. I felt like you couldn’t help but be drawn to her. Jimmy was such a sweetheart with such a good heart and I really hated the way Dolly treated him and that he let her! Vivien was such an interesting character with many layers and I couldn’t help but like her.

The story was quite long and about half way through I thought it was about to come to a head and the story was going to be finished. Obviously it didn’t and instead there was a bit of a dead spot and I couldn’t fathom that there was still a whole other half to the story. However it did pick up again and after a bit even more pieces to the puzzle became clear.

There were so many twists and turns in the book that quite a few times I felt a bit lost. It was very interesting though and really kept me guessing. I was able to figure out a few of the minor mysteries however the major one had me completely fooled until the very end. It’s such an in depth book that really once you’ve finished reading it, you need to start at the very beginning and read it all over again and you’d probably still miss some things!

Overall I quite enjoyed the story and I found it hard to put down. I wish I could have loved the story however as I didn’t like Dolly’s character, that put a blemish on it for me. I would definitely recommend if you like a dramatic family saga.