The sun drops behind us, the air turns gold. I press my knuckles together and watch the buildings blur past, the storefronts and houses, the parks turning into meadows, brown skeletal trees and dead winter hills. How terrible a time is the beginning of March. In a month there will be daffodils and the sudden blossoming of orchards, but you wouldn’t know it now. You have to take spring on blind faith.
~~ The Wicked City
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. . . .
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My Review of The Wicked City
Beatriz Williams is a brilliant writer. The Wicked City runs ahead on dual plots, one set in the 1920-30s, and the other in the 1990s. Two main characters, both young women, found the same apartment and lived there for a time. No connection, familial or otherwise. At least that we know of.
The place is New York City in the decade of prohibition. Bad deals going down. Feds running all over looking for the next illegal shipment of booze. Pretty girls in every bar in town. Rough and wicked. Just as the title says.
Fast forward to the 1990s, and there are still some wicked doings going on right in Manhattan and on Wall Street. Feds looking for the bad guys, corporate heads rolling as well as those working for them. Sounds like it’s still a wicked city.
At first, I found this a difficult book and plot line to invest my time in. It was a library book and on a 14-day checkout because it was new. I double checked the renew policy on “new” books, and it was not possible. I decided if I hadn’t finished it or even got halfway through it I’d just return it.
The due date came and so did the electronic notice. What the heck–I’ll try to renew it anyway. And it worked! I began reading somewhere near the end of the first third of the book, and kapow! Suddenly, things took off and Williams had captured me with a story line that kept gaining momentum. I found myself held victim to Williams’s style, the character development, setting, and her soul. Yes, you sense Beatriz Williams writes with her soul.
There is evil lurking in the pages–possible incest, rape, murder, beatings, blood spilled. But underlying it all is a thread of love. If you keep reading and dig deep enough, you’ll find that love is a common ingredient in both plot lines.
I found the book worth getting through the first third to read and enjoy the other two-thirds. If you’re a fan of the days of Elliot Ness, you’ll enjoy The Wicked City.
Meet Beatriz Williams
She now lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.
Her books include Overseas (2012), A Hundred Summers (2013), The Secret Life of Violet Grant (2014), Tiny Little Thing (2015), Along the Infinite Sea (2015), The Forgotten Room (2016), and the forthcoming A Certain Age (June 2016).
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