Book Review: The Wicked City
Synopsis: New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams recreates the New York City of A Certain Age in this deliciously spicy adventure that mixes past and present and centers on a Jazz Age love triangle involving a rugged Prohibition agent, a saucy redheaded flapper, and a debonair Princetonian from a wealthy family.
When she discovers her husband cheating, Ella Hawthorne impulsively moves out of their SoHo loft and into a small apartment in an old Greenwich Village building. Her surprisingly attractive new neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement at night. Tenants have reported strange noises after midnight—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the place hid a speakeasy.
In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a smart-mouthed flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin becomes entangled with Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.
Headstrong and independent, Gin is no weak-kneed fool. So how can she be falling in love with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent when she’s got Princeton boy Billy Marshall, the dashing son of society doyenne Theresa Marshall, begging to make an honest woman of her? While anything goes in the Roaring Twenties, Gin’s adventures will shake proper Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead—secrets that will echo from Park Avenue to the hollers of her Southern hometown.
As Ella discovers more about the basement speakeasy, she becomes inspired by the spirit of her exuberant predecessor, and decides to live with abandon in the wicked city too. . . .
My review: 3 stars.
As one of my ‘must read’ authors, it’s always exciting when there is a new Beatriz Williams book. Even though the Jazz Age isn’t my favorite period of American history, this story had more of the 1920s Prohibition history in it which I do find fascinating.
This book was part ghost story, part finding oneself after life falls apart around you. Overall, a quick read but it left me wanting more. First of all, I’m not entirely sure the contemporary story of Ella was needed. I understand that the author is trying to make connections with other characters from her other novels ( which is something as a reader I enjoy), but this felt forced to me. There were connections in the 1920s story with one of the characters from her other books ( Julie Schulyer), so I’m not sure that it was necessary to add the Ella storyline. I almost think the book could have just been Geneva Kelly’s story alone without the contemporary angle added in at all. I was far more interested and intrigued by Geneva than Ella in any way and like in other Williams’ books that have the same setup of past-present, I didn’t think there were connections made between the two women beside being in the same building.
The Ella story line had SO many plot points and details that were not capitalized on or explained. As a reader and a writer, it definitely is something I notice and wonder what the point is to certain details or plot points that are mentioned, but never resolve within the larger arc of the narrative. I did learn from Williams’ Instagram that she just finished a sequel to Wicked City that will be out sometime in 2018- I can only assume that some of the big questions I’m left with at this point will be explained/resolved in that book, or at least I hope so! Even knowing that about the sequel, I still feel like some details of the Ella storyline could have been resolved better.
As a reader, I feel like the parallel storylines across time concept is becoming a bit overdone– or I may have just read far too many books that are in this vein ( Sarah Jio comes to mind). That doesn’t mean I won’t keep reading Beatriz Williams– in fact her next book, Cocoa Beach, will be out in July and it definitely will be a summer weekend read for me.
As part of the TLC Book Tour of this book, I was provided a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.