Review: A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante

20140312-091008.jpgAfter reading A Circle of Wives, my second read from this author, I can safely say that Alice LaPlante writes one hell of a story! I’d been looking forward to this one for awhile and was not disappointed.

When Dr. John Taylor, a renowned and respected pediatric plastic surgeon, dies a sudden death in a hotel room, at first glance it appears to be a sad yet simple case of a heart attack. However, detective Samantha Adams is convinced there’s more to the story than meets the eye. She’s young and highly motivated to prove herself. Not to mention there’s something deeper beneath the surface. You see, dear Dr. John was leading a double life. Or maybe more. In the course of the investigation, three separate wives come to light as well as other sinister secrets. There’s wife number one, Deborah. As the first wife, she’s a micromanager of the utmost kind. She even goes so far as to manage John’s other life. MJ is wife number two, a free-spirited hippie type who was completely unaware that she was sharing her husband. As was wife number three and the most recent acquisition, Helen, a fellow physician. Of course, there are other twists and turns along the way that you’d expect from such a story.

There’s always a risk when a story is written from multiple perspectives as this one is. If not done carefully, the reader is left wondering who is saying what and whose turn it is to speak. That’s not a problem with this book as the author seamlessly switches between the three wives as well as the detective, Samantha. I won’t claim any particular affinity for the wives as none of them did anything to endear themselves to me. And to be honest, none of them were particularly likeable. But isn’t that one of the signs of a truly gifted author, one who can keep you reading even when you don’t care for most of the characters?

Although this would be categorized in the psychological thriller/suspense genre, there’s none of the urgency often found in these types of stories that results in a page-flipping mad dash to the finish. The story hums long nicely but steadily and as a result it makes you want to slow down and savor each and every word. Still, there’s no lack of suspense in this book. Even though I thought I knew who dunnit, it could have plausibly been any one of several people up until the very end. My only gripe with the story is that there were too many loose ends and unfinished bits to leave me fully satisfied. Some people are okay with open-ended conclusions. I am not. I like to know what happens to each and every character after the big picture is revealed. Still, this is a good story told through the gifted words of Alice LaPlante.

~Thalia

Buy it Now: A Circle of Wives

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3 thoughts on “Review: A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante

  1. I read this, too, as an ARC. I thought it was a pleasant surprise. Alice LaPlante is able to make a man with three wives (a circle of wives) sympathetic.

    LaPlante first asks, who would want to murder this man? The answer seems obvious when it is learned that he had three wives. So the next question is, which wife? As we learn more and more about each wife, the answer to that question is less and less conclusive. All three seem to have motive, and with each chapter, your guess will change.

    The majority of A CIRCLE OF WIVES is worthy of a five-star recommendation. But I give it only four. The ending to this book is lame. That is the biggest reason. Also, though, the chapter near the end in which all the details of the crime are put together is such a disappointment and gives more credit to the detective than seems likely.

    • I agree with all of your major points, techeditor! It did keep me guessing until the end because any one of the three wives could have been the murderer. Goodness knows they all had enough motive! I actually thought Samantha was the most well-written character in the book, and I’d love to see another book with her in it in the future. I really felt that, as the story progressed, the fact that John was a polygamist took a back seat to everything else going on. Thanks for your comments!

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