The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress: A Novel

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress: A Novel

by Ariel Lawhon
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Overview

The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress: A Novel by Ariel Lawhon

“Inspired by a real-life unsolved mystery, this mesmerizing novel features characters that make a lasting impression.”—PEOPLE MAGAZINE

"More meticulously choreographed than a chorus line. It all pays off."—THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW


They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three.
Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks—one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale—of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.

With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385537629
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Co-founder of the popular reading blog SheReads, ARIEL LAWHON lives in Nashville with her husband and four boys.

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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author apparently did not bother to check the year in which polyester was first used in clothing. It was 1941. This rather obvious error makes me question the rest oh her research. Historical fiction permits its author to elaborate upon events, but only in the context of the time. Additionally, she states that a victrola played constantly when no one was at home. A victrola is not a radio, and automatic replays did not occur without someone placing the tone arm containing the needle back to the beginning of the record; otherwise, the needle would circle around the center of the record continuously when the needle had progressed from the edge of the record to the center. Victrolas were entirely manually operated; they were not radios and had to be cranked to make the turntable spin. The author has probably never seen a record player in operation, much less a victrola. I have not even read half of this book, and I am disgusted by the lack of scholarship. I purchased it because the disappearance of this judge was a story about which I knew nothing, so I was anticipating learning something. I cannot view this book as being much better than a Harlequin romance, and those books are dreck, but if a reader likes that kind of story, he or she will enjoy this book. I learned more about Justice Crator from Wikopedia.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Wife, The Maid & The Mistress has the setting of Rules of Civility, but is a little naughtier and definitely more suspenseful. The three women, Stella, Ritzi and Maria, have distinct personalities and although I had a favorite, I was very happy spending time in each of their worlds. The mystery elements lead up to a dramatic conclusion to this famous cold case.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put down,finished in one weekend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This would make an awesome movie! Dynamic characters in a who done it story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quick page turner with great Mystery. The author was clear this was a work of fiction while including a lot of details of the real case.
Cupid More than 1 year ago
Slimy politicians, gangsters, and showgirls! A fun trip to the 1930's and 1960's, centered around the case of a missing judge. There are glimpses of the grandiose Broadway shows of the 1930's from a showgirl's perspective. But not just any showgirl...one linked to big crime and dirty political dealings. While the coincidence of the main characters is a little hard to believe, it is a novel based on a true event with the author taking artistic license as to what really happened. If you read this as a novel, it is a good read. If you read this as nonfiction accounting of an actual event, you should remember that it is fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author leaves a void at the center of the book; of judge Crater we learn only that he likes sex and is is dishonest and disagreeable - nothing more.The three women of the title are well drawn and all loathe him, but their doings at the end of the book were, well absurdly unlikely. The author includes so many anachronisms, I was wondering if she was doing it intentionally- a little research & understanding of the period is a good idea when wriring historical fiction. A typical one: Mrs. Crater giving her maid a "cocktail dress" from her wardrobe for the maid to wear while serving guests; in 1930, Fifth Avenue maids wore uniforms - period, end of story. Would Governor Franklin Roosevelt have attended a small party with a prominent gangster/murderer as in the book? You may as well have Herbert Hoover meeting Al Capone. And as for Stella seeing Joan Blondell in Life magazine in 1929? Joan didn''t even get to Hollywood until1930, and Life was a small format photo-free weekly humor magazine at that time, which author confuses it with the later (1936) news/photojournalism one. And if Stella liked the shoes she saw on Joan in Life, she certaily wouldn't have had to order them from "Hollywood", they would almost certainly have been easily enough found in New York - the center of the fashion industry. And Polyester, and filtered cigarettes and "garbage bags" were all things of the future in 1930.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The story of each of the 3 women (the wife, the maid and the mistress) is well thought out and engaging. You can relate to each of the characters, their stories, and feel empathy for them. It was also a fascinating story based on historical events, yet told in a way that made this compelling historical fiction. It was a book I didn't want to put down, and written in the perspective of 3 voices, which I enjoy.
camilledimaio More than 1 year ago
When I’m not running after four kids, selling houses, or agonizing over word choices in my next novel, I can be found making tapestry pillows. I follow a pattern – I’m not that artistic – but, I find great joy (and therapeutic value) in revealing the picture stitch by stitch, color by color. Some authors accomplish this through words, as Ariel Lawhon did masterfully in “The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress”. Do you judge a book by its cover? I do. At least, literally. And that is how I stumbled upon this great read yesterday, as I was heading to the Barnes and Noble resister with books up to my chin. There was not room for one more, considering my short stature, but Joan Wong‘s remarkable cover art captivated me. The wife – depicted in a smart suit and pearls. The maid – wearing the predictable black and white uniform. The showgirl mistress – scantily clad in red and gold. All coming together as one, with a common problem, and a common goal. While the synopsis was enough to convince me to part with $16 hard-earned dollars, I did not realize until I came home and opened its pages that the story is, in fact, based on the real-life disappearance of a New York State Supreme Court Judge in 1930. Most of the characters are real, but Lawhon blurs fact and fiction into the many-decades-old mystery as she imagines what could have happened. It is a whodunnit, a book noir, a work of historical fiction all in one. Ariel Lawhon, who runs the popular book review site She Reads, uncovers the scenario bit by bit, day by day, leaving the reader guessing until the very end. She was particularly adept at creating brief flashbacks that added texture to the narrative, but I would caution a reader to note the dates carefully so that they know where the present ends and the past begins. When read with that detail in mind, I predict that you will want to put all else aside as you finish the book in a day and then wonder which of your fellow book lovers would like to borrow it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tedious and boring, with no likable characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed every moment of of this book! Ihave already recommended it to several other people to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not written very well and the plot was very predictable. It was about 80 pages too long and the ending was not surprising or interesting. It was hard to follow at times because the author kept jumping back in forth in time, which eventually got very irritating. I did like how the point of view switched between the different characters but other than that I did not like this book. It took me forever to read it and was glad I finished it so I would just be done with it.
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
From the first few pages of The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon, I knew I would be hooked. You see, the book is centered around the ripped-from-the-headlines disappearance of a NY State Supreme Court judge who just happened to go missing on the date of my anniversary: August 6. This is, of course, a complete coincidence, but it did intrigue me from the get-go. At it’s core, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is speculative fiction, that is it’s a story of what could have happened to Judge Crater, based on real facts and characters. Set in 1930, it is clear from the first few pages that book is poised to be a confession by Judge Crater’s wife, Stella. As she sits in a seedy bar in 1969 with the man who investigated her husband’s disappearance, she recreates the year the judge stepped into a cab, never to be seen again. Told  from the perspectives of the three women in Judge Crater’s life (his wife, maid, and mistress), Lawhon weaves tale of deception, passion, and unspeakable crimes. As the women independently investigate the judge’s disappearance, they delve into the seedy underbelly of Broadway, learn of the corrupt authorities, and the experience the danger of gangsters. Ultimately, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress begs the questions of who knew what, and when they knew it. I raced through this book in one sitting and can’t recommend it highly enough. Although all of the characters were fully developed, Lawhon’s three heroines were crafted perfectly. Each with her own story, Stella (the wife), Maria (the maid), and Ritzi (the mistress) could easily have a book of their own. Their carefully crafted stories blended together seamlessly, and I finished the book wanting to read everything I could about every single one of them. This isn’t because anything was missing, but because they were so well-cared for by Lawhon that I want more of them. One of the things I loved about this book is the way Lawhon uses seemingly innocuous details to signify the ties that bind the three women together. For example, a streak left by a finger in the dust by one woman and noticed by another paints a better picture of their interconnectedness than an entire chapter could tell. Lawhon’s mastery of subtlety  adds a resounding layer of authenticity that will stay with you for days after you’ve finished reading the book. It’s clear that Lawhon put her heart and soul into this book and it was definitely worth the risk. I cannot accurate express how glorious of an experience it was to read The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress, but I sincerely hope that you take the time to find out for yourself. Allison @ The Book Wheel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really well written. It held my attention. Fasinating time period. Great way to tell about an actual murder. Another good book on the NOOK is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. This book is also based on an actual villian. Both books deserve A+++++++++
TonyaTells More than 1 year ago
A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930-Justice Joseph Crater's infamous disappearance-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best. They say behind every great man, there's a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge's wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge's bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband's recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city's most notorious gangster, Owney "The Killer" Madden. On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge's involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he? After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge's favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks-one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale-of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on. With a layered intensity and prose as effervescent as the bubbly that flows every night, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress is a wickedly entertaining historical mystery that will transport readers to a bygone era with tipsy spins through subterranean jazz clubs and backstage dressing rooms. But beneath the Art Deco skyline and amid the intoxicating smell of smoke and whiskey, the question of why Judge Crater disappeared lingers seductively until a twist in the very last pages. -- I believe that if a book makes you want to know more about the subject, the author has done a fantastic job! I think Ms Lawhon did a fantastic job with this mystery. I really enjoyed getting pieces of each character. I didn't have a favorite, I loved each woman. I really enjoy the mystery, and even better since it is based on true facts. We will probably never know what really happened to the judge but Lawhon did a fabulous job with maybe guessing based on true accounts. I think she definitely has a gift and I hope she continues to write more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sneps More than 1 year ago
Too Good to Be True, but it is!! One word: WOW! This novel has so many twists and turns, debauchery, infidelity, infertility, mistresses, maids with a little too much information, and a corrupt system. I love books that mix fact with fiction, weaved together by one creative mind: Ariel Lawhon’s! This is not a quick read, by any means, as there are a lot of characters important to the storyline-that you will want to know. I did find myself getting confused with the year/dates, as the story does jump back to before Crater’s disappearance, to after his disappearance, and then later in life. Based on the real life mystery surrounding Joseph Crater’s disappearance, there are 3 women, who Ariel shines light on. While there are creative liberties used to fill in the gap of information not know, Ariel’s writing is seamless and the story flows like a true crime novel should. I absolutely loved the characters Ariel creates to help make the story well rounded (won’t reveal who…you have to read it!), and the characters she expounds on-who were quite interesting and fascinating to read about. This is a fantastic story, with everyone being a suspect…even the police. Set in the 1930′s, Ariel captures the glamour, the seediness of the club-limited to showgirls, corrupt politicians, and mobsters, corrupt political systems and the impact it has on an affluent family, murder suspicion, three women who are connected in one way or another, which just kept me fully engaged the whole time. I am blown away by this fantastic historical fiction novel, written by a first time author, who read a lot of conspiracy theories, novels, newspaper clippings, and somewhere in all of that research material-she brings forth this incredible novel!! An excellent novel for book club discussions, for anyone that loves political/true unsolved crime novels, and historical fiction.-BooksintheBurbs
TumTumite More than 1 year ago
Wife, Maid, Mistress was a very enjoyable book. Simply written with a twist at the end. Don't do as I did and read the end early, it won't make as much sense if you do. Be patient and just let the story flow. The style of writing was extremely magnetic. From the first chapter, I was drawn into the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book. I was immediately drawn into the story, and the characters were well developed and believable. I loved the twist at the end that made it all come together.