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Social Crimes Perfect Paperback – July 2, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How does Hitchcock's amusing saga differ from the scads of books involving money, murder and high society? There's the economy and wit of her prose ("murder was never my goal in life," heroine Jo Slater begins), and then there's Jo's awareness of how silly the upper crust is ("if you're nice and you lose all your money, you're out. But if you're a sh-t with a private plane, you're in"). Playing on the tried and true theme of the older wife being dumped for the young miss, Hitchcock (Trick of the Eye) offers a funny, lightweight tale. Jo is living the life: she's married to a billionaire, owns a sumptuous apartment in Manhattan, a rambling home in the Hamptons and a magnificent collection of 18th-century art. Things are just perfect until pretty young thing Monique de Passy enters her world (seemingly as a friend), Jo's husband dies, and Jo learns that he's left his estate to none other than the charming French countess. What follows and constitutes the bulk of the book is Jo's attempt to frame Monique as a seductress and murderer. Her approach is, for the most part, honorable. Jo is smart and has plenty of connections, and even though her financial situation becomes dire after her husband's death (she takes cabs instead of limousines and wears old couture dresses to parties), she holds her head high and eventually triumphs. Hitchcock's prose is airy and her plot moves quickly, making this a quintessential beach book.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Ruth Rendell meets Dominick Dunne in this deliciously dark and witty novel about social climbing and murder. When husband Lucius dies of a heart attack under rather sordid and suspicious circumstances, prominent New York socialite Jo Slater is shocked to learn that he has left his sizable estate, including the Southampton mansion and Fifth Avenue apartment, to a mysterious French countess. Exiled from the kingdom of money, power, and privilege, Jo struggles to rebuild her life only to find herself thwarted at every turn by the countess. From working as a Park Avenue interior decorator to selling "wholesale carpets and hotel furnishings on Lexington and 26th Street," Jo quickly slides down the social ladder until she hits rock bottom, buying a pair of Hush Puppies (on sale) for her aching feet: "Symbolizing my ugly new life of drudgery and hopelessness, those Hush Puppies were just about the most depressing purchase I had ever, ever made." Obsessed with recovering her fortune and place as queen of "le tout New York," Jo concocts an audacious scheme of fraud and murder. Can she pull it off? For sophisticated readers wanting the perfect beach read, Hitchcock's third novel (after Trick of the Eye and The Witches' Hammer) offers a bubbly cocktail of psychological suspense and social satire. Strongly recommended for popular fiction collections. Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; 1st edition (July 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786888482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786888481
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,804,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Linda Fairstein on May 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting for several years since devouring Jane Stanton Hitchcock's first two novels (the Edgar-nominated TRICK OF THE EYE, and the sinister WITCHES'HAMMER) and now she's back in brilliant form. Just in time for a great beach read, but far more clever and perceptive than simply a delightful diversion, SOCIAL CRIMES nails New York's society mavens and manners absolutely dead-on. This is a writer who clearly knows her subject and the world about which she writes, makes you care about her characters, has a great sense of humor, and uses an obscure and stunning legal device to set the devious plot in motion. Hitchcock took me directly into her world and kept me there, riveted to the pages. The book is smart, funny, well-written - and, as one of the reviewers said, drawing my attention to the book - just delicious. Highly recommended.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. A Dunn on November 3, 2003
Format: Perfect Paperback
So the writer is well versed in Marie Antoinette and proceeds to use 300+ pages to beat this expertise into our heads. The book was just a little too precious with its cast of characters and their turns of phrase. I was not the least bit surprised who would be murdered and how it would take place, as the author chose to telegraph the method at least 100 pages beforehand.
I believe there is something inauthentic in writing what you know when the first 250 pages speak in exquisite, never-ending detail of historical anecdote and the author glosses over the actual point of the plot. By now it's anticlimatic.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By sweetmolly on January 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Being super-rich must have a downside---somewhere. It couldn't happen to a nicer person than Jo Slater, our luxe heroine of this finely crafted psychological novel. Jo started off poor, became the mistress and later the wife of an obscenely rich man. She paid her dues, was the perfect wife and hostess, educated herself and became an arbitrator of Society.
Jo knows her 18th century French furniture, her Porthault linens, her couture wardrobe----knows it all except her incredibly conniving older husband and her former great friend, the young Countess de Passy. Husband dies suddenly in shocking circumstances, and Jo finds she is left with nothing but her jewelry and wardrobe while the Countess is left half his fortune. Hell hath no fury, etc., but Jo's is focused on the Countess to the point of obsession. However, it's tough to successfully scheme when all the bucks are on the other side.
Picture a cross among psychological thriller writer Minette Walters, "W"'s savvy society columnist Suzy, and the light hearted wit of George Plimpton and you will have an idea of what Ms. Hitchcock is about here. Jo is so likeable even when she is thinking her darkest thoughts that you feel like you want her for your new best friend.
Though "Social Crimes" is eminently readable and witty, it is no fluffy beach book. The author zeros in on the pain and belittlement of obsession and humiliation; how even the best of us can become emotionally crippled by a sudden change in our fortunes. Revenge is a very cold dish indeed.
Can't say enough good about Ms. Hitchcock and "Social Crimes." Do yourself a favor and read it!
-sweetmolly-Amazon.com Reviewer
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nancy R. Katz VINE VOICE on December 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
In the tradition of Edith Wharton, and with a clever and witty look at New York society, Jane Stanton Hitchcock presents a fast paced read with her newest book, Social Crimes.
This is the third book I've read by Ms. Hitchcock and this is her best book so far. With an almost tongue in cheek approach, the author presents less than sterling characters in a plot readers will long remember.
Jo Slater is living a life beyond her wildest dreams. A former restaurant hostess from the Midwest, Jo is now married to an enormously wealthy older man. She has become a true society lady owning an estate in the Hamptons, a fabulous apartment in Manhattan and a collection of priceless art and antiques, which includes a necklace owned by Josephine Bonaparte. But Jo is about to suffer a fall from grace when she befriends a French Countess whose background is quite mysterious. When Countess Monique has nowhere to stay for the remainder of the summer, Jo graciously offers her their guesthouse. And while Jo and Monique become fast friends, and Jo reveals a bit too much about herself, Monique is soon to prove to be quite the manipulator at Jo's expense.
All too soon, Jo is living on the other side of great wealth and society life, while Monique is now one of New York society's latest society ladies. After a period of disbelief as to what has happened to her, Jo moves into high gear and learns that revenge can have a higher price than she thought possible.
Like The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, Ms. Hitchcock has a fine eye and ear for depicting life among the very wealthy. One reads this book with a chuckle and realizes at the end that position and wealth can be fleeting at the best of times.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By DevJohn01 on June 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Jo Slater is a very wealthy, very powerful socialite. She serves on the board of one of New York's most prestigious museum, she owns one of the worlds most impressive collection of eighteenth century furniture, she throws the best parties and has friends in all of the right places. Jo worked very hard to get to where she was, as she was not born into this life. However, it the blink of an eye all that Jo had worked so hard to attain was ripped away from her upon her husbands death. That is thanks in part to the beautiful French Countess Monique de Passay who began an affair with Lucius Slater, Jo's husband of over twenty years, a little over a year before Lucius' death. Lucius' will leaves all of his assets split between the Countess and his son leaving Jo virtually penniless and in a lot of debt. After years of obsessing over revenge, Jo finally devises a plan to bring down the Countess and regain her standing in society.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel of New York's socially elite and how quickly it can all be taken away. "SOCIAL CRIMES" is a very enjoyable book that will have you rooting for Jo all the way.
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