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A Circle of Wives

A Circle of Wives

3.1 17
by Alice LaPlante

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* 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


* 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 Alto beat usually covers petty crimes, is innocently thrown into a high-profile case that is more complicated than any she has faced before. A renowned reconstructive surgeon and a respected family man, Dr. Taylor was beloved and admired. But beneath his perfect façade was a hidden life—in fact, multiple lives. Dr. Taylor was married to three very different women in three separate cities. As the circumstances surrounding his death emerge, Detective Adams finds herself tracking down a murderer through a tangled web of marital deception and revenge. New York Times bestselling author Alice LaPlante’s haunting and complex novel of family secrets dissects—with scalpel-like agility—the intricacies of desire and commitment, trust and jealousy.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
On the surface LaPlante's second novel (after the acclaimed Turn of Mind) is a straightforward mystery. A respected plastic surgeon, Dr. John Taylor, is found dead in his hotel room in Palo Alto, CA. Det. Samantha Adams is assigned the case, and though her hometown rarely sees a murder, she's determined to solve the case. Sam discovers that Taylor was leading a complicated personal life, one that involved three wives, Deborah, M.J., and Helen, all of whom become suspects in his murder. Each of the women knew a different version of the man. Sam must find out which life was the one that got him killed. VERDICT Though a murder mystery serves as the backdrop to LaPlante's tale, her characters tell the story. The narration alternates from chapter to chapter and from woman to woman. An investigation of a crime becomes an exploration of the choices these women made and the resulting impact. Fans of character-driven puzzles will find much to like in this psychological novel. [See Prepub Alert, 10/20/13; 12-city tour; library marketing.]—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI
Publishers Weekly
The murder of prominent Stanford plastic surgeon John Taylor jolts the career of Samantha Adams, an inexperienced Palo Alto, Calif., police detective, in LaPlante’s engrossing second thriller (after 2011’s Turn of Mind). The charismatic, well-respected doctor, who specialized in reconstructive surgery for needy children, had a damning secret: he kept three wives, Deborah, MJ, and Helen, in different cities. The investigation affects commitment-phobe Sam’s own relationship with nice-but-bland Peter, as she becomes fascinated with the question of why these very different women found John appealing. Told in the alternating voices of Sam, Deborah, MJ, and Helen, the novel explores love, loss, control, the influence of past relationships, and passion. The multi-narrator approach may strike some as choppy at first, but LaPlante quickly settles into a captivating rhythm. She paints a sympathetic picture of the enigmatic John while channeling the women’s voices to explore how their separate stories converged on him. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"Marriage is as mysterious as murder in LaPlante’s captivating psychological thriller. . . . a smart, intricate tale about murder and the elusive mysteries of marriage . . . In LaPlante’s world knowing who did the deed is never as fascinating as wondering why." —People (3.5 stars)

"The pleasures of this novel—as with LaPlante's last, Turn of Mind—lie less in the plot, which is strewn with only a few clues and red herrings, and more in the sharply drawn and carefully shaded characters. A-" —Entertainment Weekly

"A suspenseful, thrilling read but also one that explores the complications of human relationships with grace and understanding. In her darkly funny, lushly drawn mystery, LaPlante offers readers her own revelations about love, loss, and the complicated compulsions that draw us together." —Royal Young, Interview

"I finished reading this absorbing novel after 11 last night. That’s the mark of a successful mystery." —Carolyn See, Washington Post

"Love is a mystery in this clever whodunit about marriage, passion and deception. . . . Sharply written and observant." —Family Circle

"Exhilarating and smart, A Circle of Wives is a wild ride of love, loss, marriage and murder, with a finale that's provocative, thrilling and grand. It all shows that while some deaths are a mystery, so, too, are some loves." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Surprising, swift and sure-footed. . . . [LaPlante] has taken an intriguing premise and, having hooked the reader, delivers an equally intriguing book." —Seattle Times

"Insightful . . . [An] engrossing tale of tangled relationships, unfilled needs, and the endless human talent for self-deception. The question it plants in the reader’s mind is the most chilling of all: How well do I know the person I love?" —Washington Independent Review of Books

"LaPlante’s engrossing second thriller . . . explores love, loss, control, the influence of past relationships, and passion. . . . Captivating." —Publishers Weekly

"A page-turner that also offers much ironic commentary on the dynamics of love and marriage, emphasizing the great mystery at the heart of any romantic relationship." —Booklist

"In this literary character study built on a mystery’s framework, LaPlante ingeniously constructs characters distinct and original." —Kirkus Reviews

"Highly original and captivating." —The Missourian

Kirkus Reviews
LaPlante (Turn of Mind, 2011, etc.) returns with a character study as murder mystery. Dr. John Taylor's a respected Palo Alto plastic surgeon. While his Taylor Institute partners prefer the "revenue stream" of vanity surgery, Taylor's passion is reconstructing the faces of damaged children. Taylor was "a man you could trust...a man who had your interests at heart...competent, straight-talking, yet compassionate," and so there's widespread shock when Taylor's found dead at a local hotel. The confusion's compounded when it's discovered that Taylor was a bigamist. Deborah, his wife of decades, presides over local society. MJ Taylor, an accountant to whom he's been married for six years, lives in a modest ranch with a lush garden. His bride of six months, Dr. Helen Richter, is a respected Los Angeles children's cancer specialist. A media storm erupts, growing to the intensity of a hurricane after it's discovered Taylor was murdered. The case is assigned to law school dropout–turned–police officer Samantha Adams, a young woman who finds her own long-term relationship perplexing. In this literary character study built on a mystery's framework, LaPlante ingeniously constructs characters that are distinct and original. Deborah withdrew from her marriage to Taylor, but, unwilling to divorce, she acquiesced to his search for intimacy elsewhere, even managing logistics for all three marriages. MJ's a tortured, needy soul, ripe for seduction. Helen, a singularly focused physician, finds herself "surprised by joy" and "not in control of my destiny or my body." Taylor became what each needed. Against this backdrop, Samantha's relationship with her lover, a lackadaisical Ph.D. candidate in anthropology, unravels as she comes face to face with "[t]he shell of an amicable but less-than-nourishing relationship...as good as I can expect to get." And then into the narrative come MJ's drug-damaged brother, Thomas, and exotically beautiful Dr. Claire Fanning, Taylor Institute's newest surgeon and Taylor's prospective wife, for whom he's promised to forsake all others. Love, passion and marriage reflected in a mystery's fun-house mirror.

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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3 MB

Meet the Author

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 six books, including the LA Times bestseller Method and Madness: The Making of a Story (W.W. Norton 2009). Her first novel, Turn of Mind, was a New York Times , NPR, and American Independent Booksellers Association bestseller, won the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, was a finalist for the Barnes&Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and was named a New York Times and Booklist Editors’ Choice and a #1 IndieNextPick. She lives with her family in Northern California. Author website: alicelaplante.com

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A Circle of Wives 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
Dr John Taylor, renowned plastic surgeon, is found dead in a hotel room and small town Detective Samantha Adams gets put on the case.  What seems to be an open and shut case, until it is discovered that he has three wives in three cities.  Detective Samantha Adams finds herself having to go through a web of lies and marital problems.  My Review: A Circle of Wives is told from the point of view of four main characters.   Each of the wives and Detective Samantha all get their own chapters to tell the story from their point of views.   The way this was written the reader was able to get the different sides of what happen and compare the stories.   I truly enjoyed getting to know each character so well.  In this style I was able to relate easier and understand why each woman was so blind to Dr. Taylor’s polygamist lifestyle.   I was also able to draw conclusions as to who might have murdered their husband and why.  Although, I cannot say that I knew who done it until the very end of the book. Alice LaPlante wrote an excellent murder mystery that kept me having to read.  She left me guessing at whom the real killer was and cheering Detective Sam on.    Each chapter had suspense and kept me entertained.   This is the first book that I have read of Alice LaPlantes.   I am positive that I will be looking for more from this wonderful author. 
Twink More than 1 year ago
I loved Alice LaPlante's award winning debut novel - Turn of Mind. It was a mystery told through the eyes of woman in the clutches of Alzheimer's disease. Her newest book A Circle of Wives is another mystery that keeps us guessing. Who is telling the truth? Who can be believed? Renowned and wealthy surgeon Dr. John Taylor is found dead of an apparent heart attack. But when an autopsy reveals suggestions of foul play, the case is handed over to Detective Samantha Adams. This is her first serious case. The immediate suspect is of course the person closest to the victim - in this case, Taylor's wife Deborah. Or perhaps it's his other wife MJ? When a newspaper runs a story on the doctor's death, that's when MJ discovers Taylor's bigamy. And then a third wife pops up. "What's going on is the inaugural meeting of John Taylor's spouses, says Deborah. Would we qualify as a coven? A harem? What is the term for a group of wives? Circle. We are a circle of wives." Was it one of his wives who ended Dr. Taylor's life? Which one of them hated Taylor enough to kill him? Did one of the wives suspect he had more than one spouse? LaPlante tells her story from the viewpoint of each of the wives as well as Samantha, the detective. LaPlante has written an excellent mystery. But just as good are the character studies of each main player. They all have reasons to want John dead and each has their own secrets to keep. LaPlante fleshes them out, leaving us to ponder just which one of them is capable of murder and cunning enough to get away with it. I quite liked Samantha as a protagonist. Her struggle to be taken seriously, her dogged determination and her own personal life provided a great secondary story line. Another thoroughly enjoyable read from LaPlante.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
One of the hottest selling books in recent years, “Gone Girl”, tells the story of a bad marriage, a missing wife and husband suspected of killing her. For fans of “Gone Girl”, there are three recent novels that tread similar ground- that of bad marriages, with elements of murder and psychological twists. They have some similarities- two feature physician husbands, two feature therapist wives, and all three have psychologically damaged people. Alice LaPlante’s “Circle of Wives” tells the story of a celebrated pediatric plastic surgeon found dead in a hotel room. At his funeral, it is discovered that he has three wives.  His first wife lives in the big home and spends her time on charitable works. She is one tough manicured-to-the-teeth cookie, and we come to discover that not only did she know about the other wives, she carefully orchestrated her husband’s complicated life. The second wife got out of a bad marriage and headed west with her two young sons. She became an accountant, and she and her doctor husband lived a quiet life, tending to their peaceful backyard garden. The third wife is a pediatric oncologist, who spent little time with her husband, but understood because his practice was in another city hours away. She was a quiet, disciplined woman who gave so much of her life to her work, she never thought she’d marry. “Circle of Wives” is the most traditional mystery of the three novels, a real whodunit.The writing is crisp and the characters are well written, (especially wife #1) much like LaPlante’s previous novel “Turn of Mind”. Once again, she will keep you guessing to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a good story told in an interesting way. The different narrators moved the story along at a nice pace. I was not liking the way the mystery was shaping up but the twist at the end made it work. This was my first book by this author - it will not be the last
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interestingly told with a different premise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable to read. Love the short chapters. Disappointed that the character Joyce was written as Cecilia for a total of four times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She changes a character's name from Joyce to Cecelia, character only in one chapter; first thought it was another character-typos and errors like this annoy me and tend to make the book less enjoyable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has to be one of the most boring books I have ever had the misfortune to buy for my nook! What a waste of $$$$$!!!!!! Avoid this no matter what!!!!!!!!!!!! Wish I could have given less than 1 star!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book tremendously. The characters were well developed and interesting.
anonomas More than 1 year ago
This is a very strange book. The author doesn't seem to know where she wants to go.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Are you kidding ....no book is worth $25.00
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot believe anyone thought this book was worthy for publication. The characters were unlikable and dreary, the plot thin and not fully developed, and the ending was ridiculous. I was a waste of time and money. I will not read La Plante again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with the other reviewer that the book was a ridiculous waste of time! I finished reading and did not understand the meaning of the last paragraph at al!l
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally stupid and waste of time reading such drivel with the murderer confessing all apparently "off the record" at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Uh. Nothing just random talk ^_^"