Circle of Wives, A: A Novel

Overview

When Dr. John Taylor is found dead in a hotel room in his hometown, the local police find enough incriminating evidence to suspect foul play. Detective Samantha Adams, whose Palo Alto beat usually covers small-town crimes, is innocently thrown into a high-profile murder case that is more intricately intertwined than she could ever imagine. A renowned plastic surgeon, a respected family man, and an active community spokesman, Dr. Taylor was loved and admired. But, hidden from the public eye, he led a secret ...

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Overview

When Dr. John Taylor is found dead in a hotel room in his hometown, the local police find enough incriminating evidence to suspect foul play. Detective Samantha Adams, whose Palo Alto beat usually covers small-town crimes, is innocently thrown into a high-profile murder case that is more intricately intertwined than she could ever imagine. A renowned plastic surgeon, a respected family man, and an active community spokesman, Dr. Taylor was loved and admired. But, hidden from the public eye, he led a secret life—in fact, multiple lives. A closeted polygamist, Dr. Taylor was married to three very different women in three separate cities. And when these three unsuspecting women show up at his funeral, suspicions run high. Adams soon finds herself tracking down a murderer through a web of lies and marital discord.

With a rare combination of gripping storytelling, vivid prose, and remarkable insight into character, Alice LaPlante brings to life a story of passion and obsession that will haunt readers long after they turn the final page. A charged and provocative psychological thriller, A Circle of Wives dissects the dynamics of love and marriage, trust and jealousy, posing the terrifying question: How well do you really know your spouse?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/02/2013
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

An Indie Next Pick for March 2014

"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

Library Journal
01/01/2014
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
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-05
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491508015
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 4/15/2014
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 462,858
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice LaPlante
Alice LaPlante is an award-winning and bestselling author of five books, including the Los Angeles Times bestseller Method and Madness and the New York Times bestseller Turn of Mind, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a No. 1 Indie Next Pick, a Barnes & Noble Discover Award finalist, and the winner of the Wellcome Trust Book Prize. 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. She lives with her family in Northern California.
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