The month of May is an extraordinarily busy month in my household each year. My calendar is jam-packed with lots of school year-end things going on for my kids…field trips, musical productions, state tests, student appreciation days, teacher appreciation days…you name it, I’ve got it on my calendar. It’s sometimes tricky to find chunks of time to read during busier times like this, but reading (even at a slower pace) keeps me sane so I always find ways to squeeze it in…especially for a great book like The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon.
Recently I joined Modern Mrs. Darcy’s online book club and this was April’s selection. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, and I had never heard of the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater in New York City in the 1930s, so I was eager to get started on this one right away.
There are three main women in the story. Stella is married to Judge Crater, Ritzi is a showgirl who is having an affair with him, and Maria works as a maid in the Crater residence. Amidst lots of political corruption, Judge Crater is indebted to New York City gangster Owney Madden for his new job as Supreme Court Judge. One night, Judge Crater disappears and was never found. Ariel Lawhon’s novel is her “theory” of what happened to him. The story is so interesting and the book held my interest from beginning to end. It’s like an historical mystery and I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened.
The story begins with an elderly Stella sitting in a bar ready to finally reveal what she knows about the case to a detective. The story shifts in time all throughout the book. I struggled with this a bit, but it wasn’t that much of a problem. I just worked a little harder to keep the timeline of events straight in my brain. If you’ve ever heard of this real-life mystery or are just interested in learning more about it, I highly recommend this novel. Lawhon also wrote Flight of Dreams. I haven’t read that one yet, but I hope to read it soon.