Book Event

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What happened to Judge Crater? Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
Inspired by a real-life unsolved mystery, Lawhon’s first novel is a fascinating look at the politics and social milieu of the 1930’s.

Joseph Force Crater, a 41-year-old New York City Supreme Court justice, vanished while out on a night on the town in August of 1930.  No one was ever charged with any crime. His body was never found. 

Ariel Lawhon has taken these facts and woven an intricate story of three women in his life. The book begins with Crater’s wife Stella, tired of his affair with his mistress Sally Lou Ritz, slamming the car door on his hand. The Judge leaves for New York City to see his mistress and within a day has disappeared. 

The Crater’s maid, Maria, is a very attractive Castillian.  She is married to Jude Simon, the lead detective assigned to investigate the disappearance of Judge Crater. The main suspect, the infamous gangster Owney Madden, owns Club Abbey, and uses his power to influence politics and politicians.

Lawhon intersperses the story of Stella, Sally Lou Ritz and Maria to tell the story of how she imagines the judge disappeared. The reader is left to conjecture who really was responsible and how and why they did it.  As a reader, I couldn’t wait for the conclusion. Although I think the ending was a little less believable than I would have liked, I really enjoyed each of the women’s stories and especially enjoyed all the historical facts included in the book. The author is adept at bringing you into the story and really feeling what it was like to live at that time. Recommended!