(21) A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Circle of Wives

Publisher: Grove/Atlantic
Pages: 325
Publication Date: March 4, 2014

When Dr. John Taylor is found dead in a  prestigious hotel the police aren't entirely sure that it was murder.  They became a little more suspicious when they went to notify his wife and discovered that the good doctor had two other wives.  When they finally found the needle mark they called it for what it was, murder.

New detective Sam Adams has a tough job ahead of her.  John Taylor's wives are very different, yet Sam is convinced that one of them killed their husband.  His first wife, Deborah is organized, controlling, and the boss.  She told John that she would never agree to a divorce, but she would allow him to marry other women.  And she even micromanaged the details of those relationships, too.   MJ is the second wife, more of the free spirit, a real "earth mother" kind of woman.  So, pretty much the opposite of Deborah.   She and John share a passion for gardening and in the six years that they have been married they have created an oasis for them to escape the real world.  Finally, there is Helen.  The young, attractive doctor is more of an intellectual equal to John and with the busy life of a doctor she does not question that she can only see her husband more than two weekends a month.  By the way, both Helen and MJ believe they are John's only wife.   So when a fourth woman appears to say that John was going to divorce them all for her, Sam knows that she just has to figure out which wife was not going to let him go for anything.

A Circle of Wives was one of those mysteries that just get in your head.  We only get to see John through the eyes of his wives, but I couldn't help but compare him to the smarmy polygamous husband that is on reality television. His wives are all so different, but they seem to be completely blinded by his charm.  Deborah seems like a world class bitch, so there is that.  There is an event that happens late in the book that solidifies that opinion. Bitch, I tell you.  I will say, though, that as much as I looked forward to this book I don't think it lived up to my expectations.  I never felt "on the edge of my seat"  - I never felt - what is the right word - invested (I guess) in the characters to really care who killed the doctor. Even though the book was told in alternating viewpoints, the character I seemed to "worry" about most was the detective.  They just didn't engage me the way I thought they should.

Bottom line, A Circle of Wives IS a good mystery.   I know it seems like a weird review, but this one is a hard one to put into words.  The author has this unique way of creating a fascinating murder story without making you actually like any of the major players.  You can't stop reading because you have to find out the truth, but not because you want someone to pay for his murder, but because you just HAVE to know who finally killed the bastard. I would love to hear your thoughts, so give it a read!

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