Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter - 337 pages
New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.
Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.
But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist's spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls' friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose's fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.
But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?
My Review: 3.5 stars
Let’s just say if you’ve never read a book with an unreliable narrator, then this is the book that will introduce you to one. Rose, the main protagonist, reminded me of Catherine Land from A Reliable Wife in both tone and trustworthiness. The descriptions of NYC during the prohibition and the underground life in the speakeasy lounges was well recounted. All the characters played some role in Rose and Odalie’s life but even at the end, I’m still questioning what really happened, who was involved, not involved and perhaps even imagined! This was a psychological thriller more than anything else, and for once, I think this book would make a fabulous movie. Additionally, this book would make for a great discussion at bookclub.
Quotes I liked:
- “Just like all the other fools around her, I had developed a taste for her brand of mystery.”
- “The most objectionable people are often the ones with whom you have the most in common.”
- “You see, doubt is a magnificently difficult pest of which to try and rid oneself, and is worse than any other kind of infestation. It can creep in quietly and through the tiniest of cracks, and once inside, it is almost impossible to ever completely remove.”
- “We have access to very few books her--Too much fiction may over stimulate the mind, and as you know, your imagination is already altogether too excitable, they tell me.”
Tags: 2013, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction, New York, Psychological Thriller
Labels: 2013, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, New York, Psychological Thriller