The Other Typist

( 62 )

Overview

One of the most fascinating, unreliable narrators you’ll read this year, for fans of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Rules of Civility.

It is 1923. Rose Baker is a typist in the New York City Police Department on the lower east side. Confessions are her job. The criminals admit to their crimes, and like a high priestess, Rose records their every word. Often she is the only woman present. And while she may hear about shootings, knifings, and crimes of passion, as soon as she leaves ...

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The Other Typist: A Novel

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Overview

One of the most fascinating, unreliable narrators you’ll read this year, for fans of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Rules of Civility.

It is 1923. Rose Baker is a typist in the New York City Police Department on the lower east side. Confessions are her job. The criminals admit to their crimes, and like a high priestess, Rose records their every word. Often she is the only woman present. And while she may hear about shootings, knifings, and crimes of passion, as soon as she leaves that room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for making coffee.

It is a new era for women, and New York City is a confusing time for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. Now women bob their hair short like men, they smoke, they go to speakeasies. But prudish Rose is stuck in the fading light of yesteryear, searching for the nurturing companionship that eluded her childhood and clinging to the Victorian ideal of sisterhood.

But when glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under Odalie’s spell. As the two women navigate between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the station by day, Rose is drawn fully into Odalie’s high stakes world and her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
09/02/2013
Rose Baker is inexperienced and unworldly. She takes and types criminal confessions of every sordid kind for a New York City police precinct, but her life is otherwise unremarkable. Due to the increase of crime resulting from prohibition (the book is set in 1923), a new typist is hired to help with the workload, and Rose is intrigued. Odalie is beautiful, provocative, and more than a little unscrupulous. Rose gets swept into Odalie’s world of fashion trends and speakeasies, and finds it exhilarating. As she relates her growing involvement with Odalie, Rose becomes as uncertain of Odalie’s motives as she is infatuated. Gretchen Mol is effective in narrating Rindell’s novel. She sounds young, reserved, and thoughtful. And the voices Mol—who turns in an earnest and capable performance—lends the other characters are appropriate. An Amy Einhorn/Putnam hardcover. (May)
From the Publisher
LA Public Library’s Best Fiction of the year:

“It's The Great Gatsby meets The Talented Mr. Ripley in this psychological thriller by first-time author Rindell.”

"Best for those who can't get enough of The Great Gatsby

and the Roaring Twenties. . . . This thrilling page-turner cinematically captures the opulence—

and sordidness—

of the Prohibition Era in New York." —

Shape.com

“Take a dollop of Alfred Hitchcock, a dollop of Patricia Highsmith, throw in some Great Gatsby flourishes, and the result is Rindell’s debut, a pitch-black comedy about a police stenographer accused of murder in 1920s Manhattan. . . . A deliciously addictive, cinematically influenced page-turner, both comic and provocative.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Read The Other Typist. Set in the jazzy 1920s, this super-eerie page-turner about obsession is a striking debut for author Suzanne Rindell." —ELLE (Canada)

"[A] superb debut novel . . . the more we read, the closer we are drawn to the edge of our seat, such is the pull of this fiendishly crafty psychological thriller. . . . The period detail is excellent. . . . Rindell handles the suspense with aplomb. . . . It is not every first novel that can successfully evoke a lost era or recall the cruel machinations and tortuous entanglements of Patricia Highsmith's fiction. But Rindell has done just that. . . . We find ourselves not recoiling but succumbing, even more entranced, and hang on rapt all the way until her last dramatic act." —Minneapolis Star Tribune

"[F]rom the first page [I] was absorbed: I haven't been able to put it down . . . reminds me at points of Notes on a Scandal and Patricia Highsmith, but has creepy charms all its own." —Sadie Stein, The Paris Review

"[A] thrilling story set in glamorous, Prohibition-era Manhattan." —Reader's Digest

"Rindell's debut is a cinematic page-turner." —Publishers Weekly

"It's a riveting ride."—NPR.org

“The suspenseful story will keep you guessing.” —Bookpage

"Revealing that there is a murderous twist in Suzanne Rindell's spellbinder isn't a spoiler but an essential for enjoying the exhilirating buildup." —Daily Candy

“With hints toward The Great Gatsby, Rindell’s novel aspires to recreate Prohibition-era New York City, both its opulence and its squalid underbelly. She captures it quite well, while at the same time spinning a delicate and suspenseful narrative about false friendship, obsession, and life for single women in New York during Prohibition.” —Booklist

"Fans of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley are sure to love Rindell’s debut novel." —Library Journal

"The Other Typist is a thrilling riff on the classic noir and an impressive first novel." —The Christian Science Monitor

"Suzanne Rindell's debut novel is a lush, evocative, darkly comic noir . . . a novel that keeps you turning the pages (and then turning them back again to see if you missed a clue or two). The author is a vivid storyteller; nearly every scene is expertly detailed without being overdone. Rindell brings the Jazz era to life effortlessly. . . . The Other Typist is an easy read and perfect book to start the summer with." —Examiner.com

“This eerie and compelling debut is a riveting page-turner, narrated by a strangely hypnotic yet dubious young woman who works as a typist for the NYPD in the 1920s. Don’t start this novel at night if you need your beauty sleep—you’ll stay up to all hours devouring its pages.” —Alice LaPlante, New York Times–bestselling author of Turn of Mind

“As you read this remarkable first novel you will feel the room temperature drop. It’s chilling till the very end.” —Rita Mae Brown, MFH, Author

“You could make a one-sitting read of The Other Typist: it maintains the riveting dance of question-provoking answers that earn page-turners their name, and Suzanne Rindell’s Jazz Age NYC is gritty, glamorous, and utterly absorbing. . . .Whenever you close the covers, have a book friend handy—you’ll want to talk about The Other Typist.” —Alison Atlee, author of The Typewriter Girl

The Other Typist is a twisty yarn that drives the reader through the story in a frenzied quest to discover what’s real and what isn’t. Rose, the unreliable narrator, tells the tale of an even more unreliable woman, and Suzanne Rindell plays them both to perfection.” —B.A. Shapiro, New York Times–bestselling author of The Art Forger

“Suzanne Rindell messes with your head. The Other Typist pretends to be the story of a nice young woman entering the cutthroat world of police work in 1920’s New York. But it’s New York, not the nice young woman, who should be trembling. I had a blast reading this and had my nerves scrambled by the end.” —Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver

Library Journal - Audio
In this crisp psychological thriller, debut novelist Rindell transports listeners to 1920s New York City during the height of Prohibition. Rose, a stenographer at a Lower East Side police department, excels at her job, taking great pride in her typing skills and work ethic. The conservative, somewhat prudish Rose, who was raised at a Catholic orphanage, becomes fascinated with the new typist, the glamorous Odalie, a charismatic woman with stylish clothes and bobbed hair who would have been right at home at one of Gatsby's parties. As Rose and Odalie strike up a friendship and venture into the dangerous underworld of the speakeasies, Rose struggles to reconcile her job with her new social life. Gretchen Mol, who appears on HBO's 1920s-set series Boardwalk Empire, delivers the perfect pacing and tone for this menacing thriller. VERDICT Highly recommended for all suspense fans. ["Fans of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley are sure to love Rindell's debut novel, which parallels Ripley in its examination of our fascination with wealth and the potential consequences of keeping the wrong company," read the review of the Putnam hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 5/3/13.—Ed.]—Beth Farrell, Cleveland State Univ. Law Lib.
Publishers Weekly
With prohibition picking up steam, the New York precinct where Rose Baker works typing confessions is busy enough to need a new girl. Enter the beautiful, disturbing, and enviable Odalie. Soon Rose, a convent-raised orphan who presents herself as old-fashioned and dowdy, is ensconced in Odalie's expensive apartment, sharing her clothes, and going with her to speakeasies. Even as she's drawn in by Odalie's seductive charm and comfortable life, Rose is aware of Odalie's flexible relationship with the truth and the way she uses her position to help confederates on the wrong side of the law. But though this awareness gives Rose pause, the lure of having a friend and the thrill of living life instead of watching it pass seem to be enough to make her ignore her doubts. But then a figure from Odalie's mysterious past shows up and raises questions even Rose can't ignore, and her curiosity leads her to challenge Odalie, with explosive results. Though the final twist—the one that should make readers gasp and look back for the clues they missed—is hinted at too often ("this latter discovery lay like a bear trap waiting to spring on me," as Rose tells us) to snap smartly when sprung, Rindell's debut is a cinematic page-turner. Agent: Emily Forland, the Wendy Weil Agency. (May)
Library Journal
New York City in the 1920s is a time of speakeasies and bathtub gin, an era when women smoke in public and bob their hair. An orphan raised by nuns, Rose Baker has learned to follow the rules as a means of self-preservation. Now employed as a typist in a New York City police precinct, she transcribes confessions that will eventually become irrefutable evidence in court. When an enchanting typist named Odalie joins the precinct, everything changes. Despite her better judgment, Rose is soon under Odalies’s spell. Rose quickly learns that there are several versions of Odalie’s past, and much to Rose’s chagrin, the importance of knowing which is true becomes increasingly less important as time goes on. What begins for Rose as the promise of the bosom-friend she never had quickly becomes a complicated mess of lies, deceit, and insanity.

Verdict Fans of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley are sure to love Rindell’s debut novel, which parallels Ripley in its examination of our fascination with wealth and the potential consequences of keeping the wrong company. [See Prepub Alert, 11/19/12.]—Caitlin Bronner, St. Joseph’s Coll. Lib., Brooklyn
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
Take a dollop of Alfred Hitchcock, a dollop of Patricia Highsmith, throw in some Great Gatsby flourishes, and the result is Rindell's debut, a pitch-black comedy about a police stenographer accused of murder in 1920s Manhattan. Typing criminals' confessions, Rose admires the precinct's conservative, mustachioed middle-aged sergeant while she is critical of his superior, the lieutenant detective Frank, who is closer to her in age and a clean-shaven dandy in his white spats. An orphan raised by nuns, Rose lives in a boardinghouse and leads a prim spinster life far removed from the flappers and increasingly liberated women of the "Roaring Twenties." She seems destined to a life of routine solitude until a new typist is hired. Odalie wears her hair bobbed, dresses with panache and lives in a posh hotel. Rose voices disapproval at first, but she is clearly drawn to Odalie, even obsessed with her. When Odalie invites her to share her hotel rooms, Rose moves right in. Soon, Rose is accompanying Odalie on her adventures, which include bootlegging, among other vices. Sometimes Rose borrows Odalie's clothes, sometimes she runs errands for Odalie. But who is Odalie? Where does her money come from? And if she has money, why does she work as a police stenographer? At a house party on Long Island, a young man from Newport thinks he recognizes Odalie as the debutante once engaged to his cousin, but she denies knowing him. By the time he turns up dead, Rose has been sucked into Odalie's world so deeply that their identities have merged. Who is using whom? Recalling her recent life, revealing only what she wants to reveal in bits and pieces, Rose begins her narration archly with off-putting curlicues she gradually discards. She is tart, judgmental, self-righteous and self-justifying. She is also viciously astute. Whether she's telling the truth is another matter. A deliciously addictive, cinematically influenced page-turner, both comic and provocative, about the nature of guilt and innocence within the context of social class in a rapidly changing culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611761740
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 8
  • Sales rank: 804,299
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 5.66 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Rindell is a doctoral student in American modernist literature at Rice University. The Other Typist is her first novel. She lives in New York City and is currently working on a second novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 62 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(9)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 62 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The timing for Suzanne Rindell's The Other Typist couldn't be be

    The timing for Suzanne Rindell's The Other Typist couldn't be better. Set in the 1920's in Prohibition New York City, it it the perfect companion for those who enjoyed Baz Lurhmann's spectacular film of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel The Great Gatsby.
    As the title character in The Other Typist, Odalie Lazare is the female equivalent of Jay Gatsby. She  mysteriously shows up one day to apply as a typist at a police precinct. It is a job that men reluctantly allow women to fill, as they are not as good as typists as the women.
    The other main character in the novel is Rose Baker, as unassuming and plain as Odalie is vivacious and beautiful. She grew up in an orphanage and had a boring, lonely life until Odalie walked into her life."On that particular day, she entered very calmly and quietly, but I knew; it was like the eye of a hurricane. She was the dark epicenter of something we didn't quite understand yet, the place where hot and cold mixed dangerously, and around her everything would change."Rose becomes enchanted by Odalie and is thrilled when Odalie befriends her. Odalie takes Rose to wild parties in hidden speakeasies, lends her gorgeous clothes and even invites Rose to move into her fancy Park Avenue apartment with her.
    Soon a spider's web encompasses Rose. Seduced by the fanciful lifestyle and believing that Odalie thinks of her as a sister, Rose nevertheless has nagging suspicions about Odalie. She catches Odalie telling different stories about her past, and when they run into a man who claims to know Odalie by a different name, things start to unravel.
    The story is told by Rose, who is writing this from some sort of institution. Something bad has clearly happened, and Rose is unspooling the turn of events from her point of view. The mystery of what has occurred is not immediately evident, we must wait (im)patiently for Rose to complete her story.
    The Other Typist seduces the reader just as surely as Odalie seduces Rose. Rindell weaves her story, keeping us turning the pages with her fascinating characters and cat-and-mouse plot. The setting of a 1920s NYC police precinct feels fresh, and who knew that women worked as typists there back then?
    I found it interesting that when one of the women became pregnant, she continued to work well into her pregnancy, even when she was clearly showing. It never occurred to me that women were allowed to be seen outside of their home obviously pregnant, let alone continue to work back then. But I guess if a family depends on a women's income, she'd have to work.
    The end of the story is literally jaw-dropping. I read the last few pages several times, and I'm still not sure that I completely know what happened. It has been called a mashup of The Great Gatsby and The Talented Mr. Ripley, but I also think that the many people who liked Gone Girl will like this book, although I think The Other Typist is much better. It is the best literary mystery of the year, and it didn't surprise me to find that it is an Amy Einhorn imprint. No one finds better debut novelists that Amy Einhorn.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2013

    I kept reading! On and on and on..hoping something fantastic wou

    I kept reading! On and on and on..hoping something fantastic would happen, but no, that never happened. The author leads you on throughout the book and the reader can't help but wonder what kind of zinger she is going to drop in our laps. But strangely nothing happens, nothing at all. The ending leaves the reader scratching their head. I hated all the characters. They weren't meant to be likable, but you need at least one to keep you happy! There was very little emotion, everyone seemed one dimensional and sociopathic. Initially, I was upset to see it wasn't a big 500 page book (the kind I like). However, it ended up being the slowest, most tedious 294 pages of my life. 

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    WOW!!! Very different!

    Really kept my attention. Twists and turns. Odd characters. Highly recommended. A++++ job.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    not enjoying

    I'm almost finished, and I really wanted to close the book half way through. I am pushing to finish it, just in case something good happens. It is the slowest book I have ever read, and there isn't much going on with the story. Sadly, I am not enjoying this book at all.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2013

    Highly recommend this premier novel!

    I am an avid reader, and I knew I was being set up for a twist of an ending, but I was still surprised! Historical fiction lovers will want to read this one. The author states she is a fan of The Great Gadsby, well this is a Gadsby-esque with Catcher-in-the-Rye rolled in.
    Excellent!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2013

    This book is a great quick read. It kept my attention from start

    This book is a great quick read. It kept my attention from start to finish and I hated to see it come to an end.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2013

    I really loved this book! I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge

    I really loved this book! I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat and couldn't put it down!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Intriguing to the end.

    The Other Typist was quite a different kind of Mystery with questions left in ones mind at the end. Worth the read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    Anonymous

    What a complete and utter BORE! I'm so sorry I wasted my time reading this dribble. The author just drones on and on and on! SAVE YOURSELF and your money. Pass on this one.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2014

    I've recently finished reading this novel and, like many others,

    I've recently finished reading this novel and, like many others, was unsatisfied in its final chapter. In my view, this story required further clarification.

    My take on it is that 'Rose, Odalie, Ginevra, Adele' were all one and the same individual who was suffering from disassociative identity disorder. Although reasons for that are not explained.

    What brings me to that determination are the red herrings or hints, if you will, starting with Odalie Lazare. I thought it an odd choice for a name so pretended it was a 'jumbled' word(s) and surprisingly, found actual words with meanings to start my thinking process.

    Odalie unjumbled is 'eidola' which defined means "a phantom, an apparition or an idealized figure". Lazare unjumbled spells Azrael - the angel of death.

    Other hints included when Rose stole a cigarette from a pack on a desk although "she had never smoked before". If that were true, why does she smoke at the end?

    Another hint was when she was in the interrogation room with wife murderer, Vitali, she threatened him in a voice which "sounded strange to her and she did not recognize it as her own".

    Another hint when she was in the bathroom washing her face and looked in the mirror and instead of her own reflection, she saw Odalie looking back at her.

    There were a few other things which can be mentioned but I think I've made my point except for the fact there was no real explanation either by Rose in her narrative or the doctor.

    While it was nicely written, I don't think it merited certain accolades.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2013

    It took me about 100 pages to really become engrossed in this no

    It took me about 100 pages to really become engrossed in this novel, but once the plot got going, I was unable to put this book down. I really enjoyed the seedy, underground world of the speakeasies. Rose is a very observant and sympathetic narrator. The ending kept my head whirling and I am not sure what to think yet! I seriously want to start this one all over. This should be your next novel!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2013

    Intriguing

    Great summer read and a fun (and haunting) glimpse into the 1920s, speakeasies, and the morality of the day.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2014

    I only wish there was a zero star rating.  This book is so bad I

    I only wish there was a zero star rating.  This book is so bad I couldn't get past the fourth chapter.  This author claims to be fascinated by the
     1920s, but knows nothing about that period with regard to language and social and material conventions.  She doesn't know that nylon stockings 
    were not yet invented, she doesn't know that terms like "role model" were not used until the 1960s, she doesn't know that nuns didn't keep their 
    given names until after Vatican II in the 1960s.  Her word choices in some cases are just plain wrong--a dance with a man is an "awkward 
    abomination."  Apparently, said dance was monstrous and abhorrent.  Wow.  That was some dance.   This book is so amateurishly and inaccurately written that it is an awkward abomination. 

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Highly recommended

    Reminded me of The Talented Mr. Ripley, but with a woman as the protagonist.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The narrator of this book, Rose, grew up in an orphanage.  In th

    The narrator of this book, Rose, grew up in an orphanage.  In the course of her relating her tale, the details of her being so reared are revealed to be far different than one expected.  This revelation is made indirectly, almost as if an afterthought.  Throughout this first-person narrative of Rose, her life, and the year upon which she focuses as the reason for her speaking to her audience, is made plain in similar fashion. Her telling is spoken in a voice of conversation, a monologue that progresses in a steady direction that leads the reader to the uncomfortable unveiling of the Other Typist.
    Ms. Rindell’s first novel is an engaging read but not an entirely original one.  She structures the story in such a manner that I found myself so interested that I had difficulty stopping reading when I had more pressing matters to address.  Her characters, all viewed through the eyes of Rose, are full, living and, by the turn of the mood of the narrator, loathsome, loveable and mysterious.  
    The setting of the story, 1925 New York City, was a time of opulence, the active enforcement of the Volstead Act and the response to that act - “wet parties” (a.k.a. Speakeasies), “bootlegging,” and flappers.  As a typist for the NYPD, Rose is witness to the confessions of murderers, rapists and, thanks to the above mentioned Act, bootleggers.  Because of the three years she has been witness to such individuals, she “can tell when someone is lying” by seeing how they express themselves.  As a result of the increased work related to the raids on bootlegging operations, Odalie is hired as the new typist.  Immediately, Rose’s intuition is giving her cues to be leery of this fetchingly beautiful woman.  
    From the moment she first had contact with Odalie, Rose’s life changes.  It is not until a year after this first meeting does she realize home much her life has changed, having been blinded by the trees planted by her new friend, she could not see the forest in which she wandered was one filled with more than dangerous animals.  The author offers sufficient false leads to have kept me guessing until very late in the novel.  How the novel ends will be familiar to those who enjoy suspense novels/movies.  That familiarity, however, will come very late in the read.
    This is a morality tale set in an age that is strangely reflective of today.  The 1920’s were “roaring” due to the amount of wealth available to a select few and their willingness to spend that wealth on their own pleasure.  The “have-nots” were left to serve the “haves” in hopes of providing a living for themselves.  Laws were plentiful, but were enforced randomly and the cost for breaking the law was unequally assessed. People used others to the ends that best served them, disregarding what happened to those so used. By the end, Rose is awakened to reality that her early life was only the beginning of her being orphaned.    

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2015

    There is no chance I will see the movie.  I had to read this upt

    There is no chance I will see the movie.  I had to read this uptight book because a friend who sees a shrink gave it to me and liked it.
    I would not recommend it, and I really did not like any of the characters.  Why didn't the author name the book, "The most shallow". and please don't compare it to Gatsby.

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  • Posted January 22, 2015

    This is a very fast read, however, I really did not like the sto

    This is a very fast read, however, I really did not like the story or the characters.  The story is just "odd". I am anxious to review with our book club to discuss their views. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2014

    Absolutely loved this book.  I recommended it to a friend and he

    Absolutely loved this book.  I recommended it to a friend and her book group decided to read it.  They all loved it, too.  

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  • Posted September 28, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I am rating this book as a 3 of 5 for a few reasons.  The story

    I am rating this book as a 3 of 5 for a few reasons.  The story line was unique and intriguing.  The setting and era was fun and reminiscent of The Great Gatsby.  However, the ending was confusing.  I can think of about 4 different "endings", and I have no idea which is the real one.  It makes you wonder, however, not in a good way.  Many other literary blogs are saying the same thing - that they are confused as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2014

    Had me from the beginning

    I loved this storey!!!!!

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