The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress - Ariel Lawhon
I had never heard of the Judge Crater case before I won this book on GoodReads. This story is a fictionalized account of how events might have occurred. Given how the story ended, it is highly unlikely that the real events are anything remotely similar to the novel. I like that in the notes at the end of the book, the author clearly states which characters, actions and events were real and which were made up by her.

This was a very well written story which successfully evoked the era it took place in. I couldn't help comparing it to Amor Towles' Rules of Civility, which took place at around the same time. This story, however, was a lot less glamorous. There were a lot of seedy bars, seedy characters, and depictions of seedy parts of town. I've never read a murder mystery, but I imagine this is what one reads like. A murder took place, and while it seemed obvious what happened, when the final piece of the puzzle was finally placed, it became something else altogether.

All positive comments aside, there was one aspect of the story I felt was a little weak, and sadly I must detail it as a spoiler. Ms. Lawhon went to great pains to "tell" us how loathsome Judge Crater was to the three title characters. And while there is no doubt he was despicable, I felt her attempts came up a little short in the "showing" aspect of storytelling. Individually, they may have wanted him dead, but I don't believe his behavior and treatment of them was bad enough to bring them together to plot as they did. To me, the most despicable character in the story was Oweny. The way this piece of fiction was written, he is the one they should have plotted against. Well, maybe not the wife, seeing as she had very little interaction with him.

Another criticism, which some may not see as relevant, is that the three perspectives through which the story unfolded, the titular wife, mistress and maid, give the story a definite feminist bent, which is unfortunate. It's a little too "chicky" a read for most men, who I think would have enjoyed the story.