23 May 2013

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

The Wife, the Maid, and the MistressThe Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Maybe I'm just really old... or really weird... but I've been interested in the Judge Crater disappearance since I was a kid (Lord Lucan, too, if that says anything). And now here's a historical supposal about what happened to him!

For those that don't know, Judge Joseph Force Crater was an Associate Justice for the NY Supreme Court during the days of Prohibition and - more important - Tammany Hall. His rise from attorney/law professor to judge was questionable and shortly before he was due to testify to the commission looking into legal corruption he disappeared. That's fact. Why and how he disappeared is open to question and interpretation: was he murdered? did he just vanish? who did it? This book tries to answer those questions, bringing together three of the women in his life (wife Stella, possible mistress Sally Ann, and "maid Maria", the only not-for-certain-historic person in the trio) along with some of the men and other characters known to have something to do with his life.

Historical fiction is always difficult to do well, but this is a good example. Famous people appear but in appropriate ways (Governor Rockefeller, for example, has a cameo) while prohibition and the world of speakeasies feel accurate. Because this is a supposal, I can't say I agree with the author's solution to the mystery but I don't know any rival theories that I'd agree with more.

ARC provided by publisher.

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