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A Circle of Wives Hardcover – March 4, 2014
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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
"The pleasures of this novelas with LaPlante's last, Turn of Mindlie 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
Top customer reviews
None of the characters are likeable so it's hard to warm up to them. Even the female detective (Sam) who is investigating the doctor's death is a mess. There doesn't seem to be any part of her life that is working. She has bounced around careers...even went into law enforcement because she saw a sign in the police department that they were hiring. Her live-in boyfriend treats her with what I considered verbal abuse. So as she investigates the three women married to the same doctor, her disdain for them seems hypocritical.
By the end of the book, Sam says that she, too, could have fallen for John Taylor but part of the issue I have is that it is not really clear WHY any of these women wanted him. His first wife liked the status but she talks of him with disgust and even helped arrange the details of his marrying other women. He is described (by the women who supposedly loved him) as controlling, demanding, overweight and not very attractive. Go figure.
It seemed like the author was trying to find a way to tie it all up so she introduces a FOURTH woman into the equation...not a wife but a fiancée. Yikes. And then the ending (and reveal of the murderer) is complicated and stretches credibility.
If you see the publicity about this book you'll probably be tempted to buy it. Hope you like it better than I did!
The story is well crafted with interesting characters who are not your average people. There are several unexpected twists and three quarters of the way through the story I still didn't know who killed John Taylor. My favorite character is Samantha Adams the detective who won't give up. She is young,smart and delighted to be taken out of burglary division to head up this case. There is a weird dream at the end of the book I didn't understand and that is why I gave the book a four star rating.
Not top grade for the conduct of the plot. It is interesting, no more. It certainly does not keep you on the edge of your seat.
Bad grade for the conclusion, as it is quite simply… inconclusive.
I did read to the end to see how the situation would resolve itself. After all, there had been a mysterious death---well, the women encounter each other at the doctor's funeral, as it were. A young female detective tends to be the most interesting of the characters.
This book is written in first person, from the three wives who were married to the dead doctor and the viewpoint of the young female detective who is trying to solve the case as the doctor has expired from “suspicious circumstances.”
Each one of the characters has their own distinctive voice. One sounds intelligent, another slightly hick and yet another downright sinister. You start to realize as the story goes on that there are some unreliable narrators.
I give the author a lot of credit because writing in first person, you have to be able to make each character sound unique. Alice LaPlante did this wonderfully. I especially liked the straight-laced first wife who was a highly unlikeable character. Unlikeable is good if the author can make them interesting. After all, wasn’t Hannibal Lecter interesting?
The author kept me guessing until the end and the book wrapped up nicely.