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A Circle of Wives Hardcover – March 4, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802122345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802122346
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When Dr. John Taylor, a plastic surgeon who specialized in treating disfigured children, is found dead in his hotel room, the case is assigned to Palo Alto detective Samantha Adams. More accustomed to investigating bike thefts, Samantha is astonished to discover that her first homicide case contains layers upon layers. It seems that Taylor was a bigamist, married to three women at the same time; only his first wife, the icy Deborah, knew of his complicated marital history, as she was obsessed with holding onto the status and the money that came with being married to a wealthy plastic surgeon and even helped manage her husband’s hectic schedule, penciling in time for his two other wives, earth mother MJ and pediatric oncologist Helen. Each chapter, narrated in turn by his wives as well as the detective, reveals a complicated man whose different marriages nurtured different aspects of his personality. LaPlante, coming off the triumph of Turn of Mind (2011), crafts a page-turner that also offers much ironic commentary on the dynamics of love and marriage, emphasizing the great mystery at the heart of any romantic relationship. --Joanne Wilkinson

Review

"Marriage is as mysterious as murder in LaPlante’s captivating psychological thriller. . . . a smart, intricate tale about murder and the elusive mysteries of marriage . . . In LaPlante’s world knowing who did the deed is never as fascinating as wondering why." —People (3.5 stars)

"The pleasures of this novel—as with LaPlante's last, Turn of Mind—lie less in the plot, which is strewn with only a few clues and red herrings, and more in the sharply drawn and carefully shaded characters. A-" —Entertainment Weekly

"A suspenseful, thrilling read but also one that explores the complications of human relationships with grace and understanding. In her darkly funny, lushly drawn mystery, LaPlante offers readers her own revelations about love, loss, and the complicated compulsions that draw us together." —Royal Young, Interview

"I finished reading this absorbing novel after 11 last night. That’s the mark of a successful mystery." —Carolyn See, Washington Post

"Love is a mystery in this clever whodunit about marriage, passion and deception. . . . Sharply written and observant." —Family Circle

"Exhilarating and smart, A Circle of Wives is a wild ride of love, loss, marriage and murder, with a finale that's provocative, thrilling and grand. It all shows that while some deaths are a mystery, so, too, are some loves." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Surprising, swift and sure-footed. . . . [LaPlante] has taken an intriguing premise and, having hooked the reader, delivers an equally intriguing book." —Seattle Times

"Insightful . . . [An] engrossing tale of tangled relationships, unfilled needs, and the endless human talent for self-deception. The question it plants in the reader’s mind is the most chilling of all: How well do I know the person I love?" —Washington Independent Review of Books

"LaPlante’s engrossing second thriller . . . explores love, loss, control, the influence of past relationships, and passion. . . . Captivating." —Publishers Weekly

"A page-turner that also offers much ironic commentary on the dynamics of love and marriage, emphasizing the great mystery at the heart of any romantic relationship." —Booklist

"In this literary character study built on a mystery’s framework, LaPlante ingeniously constructs characters distinct and original." —Kirkus Reviews

"Highly original and captivating." —The Missourian

Customer Reviews

The female characters were well developed.
Tracey
The ending, however, was a bit of a let down as it got a little too unbelievable--even for this story.
Cathe
I enjoyed this book and it kept my interest until the very end.
SKC

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By tmp VINE VOICE on November 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Truly one of those can't-put-it-down books ( I plowed through it in a day), Alice LaPlante crafts a riveting story about one Dr. John Taylor, a Palo Alto plastic surgeon specializing in the treatment of disfigured children who is found dead one day in the local Westin Hotel. Shortly it comes to light that the good doctor was a polygamist, having three wives, one of which not only knew about the others but allowed the situation to keep her social standing as the First Mrs. deWinter.

LaPlante writes each chapters from the view of the wives and of the Detective on the case and is spot-on capturing the different voices of these women. While the identity of the killer will hardly be a total shock, I defy you not to enjoy the ride to the end and to not hope that her detective will make an appearance in a new book very soon.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Lauri Crumley Coates VINE VOICE on February 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ok, the man with several wives stuff sounds like the making of a lifetime movie, I know. However, this rises way above the norm we've come to expect from that type of story. Our main character is a surgeon, well known, talented, competent and well liked. Who would ever imagine a man with so much to offer, so put together, would have a messy secret private life like we see here? When Dr. Taylor is found dead in a hotel room, the crazy truth comes to the surface. Beyond his work world, this is a man who juggled not only a successful career and social life, but 3 separate wives.....only one of which knew the others existed. Who killed him and why? There's a great detective here, and a story line that is a fast read and really entertaining. Enjoyable read, you'll want to plow right through to the end.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
John Taylor does not fit the stereotype of a polygamist. Although he is handsome, charming, and charismatic, he is not selfish and arrogant, nor does he seem obviously abnormal or deviant. On the contrary, Taylor is a doctor who uses his impressive skills to perform reconstructive surgery on children who have facial deformities. His partners are unhappy that Taylor insists on doing pro bono work, since the big money is in cosmetic procedures for the affluent. Still, Taylor is a complex individual who, for reasons of his own, married three women who live in Palo Alto, Los Gatos, and Los Angeles; he somehow managed to juggle his myriad professional and personal responsibilities. It is only after Taylor dies in his hotel room of an apparent heart attack that his trio of wives become fodder for the tabloids.

Twenty-eight year old Samantha Adams is a detective in the Palo Alto Police Department in California. She has been living for ten years with her boyfriend, Peter, an anthropologist whom she dubs "an academic wannabe." Sam is ambivalent about her feelings for Peter, a fact that is driving a wedge between them. When she is assigned to the John Taylor case, Sam has little time to devote to Peter, since there is evidence that the doctor may have been murdered. Did one of his wives do him in? If so, which one?

In lesser hands, "A Circle of Wives" might have been little more than a cliché-ridden mystery with sensational overtones. Fortunately, Alice LaPlante is a talented and intelligent author who creates spellbinding and well-rounded characters; writes witty and realistic dialogue; and constructs plots that are clever and surprising. In addition, her prose is straightforward and effortless; it is refreshing to read a novel devoid of heavy-handed similes and metaphors.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Barbara McArthur VINE VOICE on January 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Here's a new reading experience - first with a captivating story, and second with the method the author has used to introduce us to the main characters and journey along with them. It's fascinating to think of a man, so charismatic that he is able to assemble a stable of three wives and that he is able to give them each what they need, and still have time and energy remaining for a career as a world-renowned plastic surgeon! Then picture him as past middle-age, ruddy-faced with a paunch! We see Dr. John Taylor only through the eyes of his wives - unfortunately, when we catch up with him, he's dead. Since he seems to be able to mold himself to the needs of his wives, and they to him, he becomes, in our eyes, a truly remarkable man. Can a man like this truly exist, we ask ourselves! Add to this the fact that the three wives are polar opposites - different appearances, different lifestyles, different values - united only by their love and need for this man for all seasons! I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the mystery - as surely one of these wives had reason to do him in.

The young detective assigned to the crime has problems of her own - starting with her background of pursuing dog barking complaints in wealthy Palo Alto. Samantha learns quickly, though, and, early in the investigation, she knows that there are motives and opportunities galore among those in John Taylor's harem. Ferreting it all out is a job - but, by story's end, literally in the last pages, we learn how it all came down. A page-turner building toward a satisfying conclusion.

If there is anything missing, it would be in the chapters assigned to each character throughout the story - and the author's attempt to have us see, feel, and hear the differences between the characters.
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