Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante

When noted plastic surgeon John Taylor dies in a hotel room in Palo Alto, the initial suspicion is natural cause. But evidence soon proves this may not be the case. A spike in potassium and a puncture wound are certainly suspicious, as is the fact that Taylor was apparently a bigamist! With three wives to his name - and at least two of them unaware of the others - it's no wonder someone might have snapped and offed the man. 

The case is assigned to Detective Samantha Adams, a young officer used to busting drunken college kids and handling mostly minor crimes. Taylor's murder is her first big case and one she's determined to solve no matter what. 

What a hot mess! Not the book - that's excellent! No, the victim is a hot mess. As the story unravels, and more and more is learned about Taylor and his wives and I found myself kind of unsure who to sympathize with. In truth, by the time the case was solved it was even harder! It was interesting, though, how my perceptions of the characters, the case, and the story changed throughout as each of those elements developed.

Though Taylor is dead from the start, LaPlante paints him as something quite different than I'd expected. Chapters alternate between each of the wives and Samantha, and LaPlante offers up a great view of each of the various characters through all of their eyes. This adds a fabulous layer of complexity to the story (and the characters, obviously) that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Circle of Wives is a great puzzle of a read. I had my suspicions about who was behind the murder. In the end I was right, but LaPlante still surprised me in revealing the actual plotting. All in all it's an excellent mystery with psychological suspense leanings.

Rating: 4/5

No comments: