Book Review: The Wicked City

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Thank you to William Morrow for asking if I wanted to read the latest by Beatriz Williams, and to Edelweiss for supplying it in e-book format. I’ve read all of Beatriz Williams’ previous books and of course I wasn’t going to stop now! I started it originally in its e-book format, but found I wasn’t getting into it. I don’t know if it was a little reluctance in thinking the “flapper” and “speakeasy” talk would be too much? Would be too thickly applied? Anyway, I put it aside and read a few other books in between. When my library brought the hardcover in, I returned to Christopher Street, Gin Kelly and Ella Gilbert in the Wicked City and found at this time, I was burning right through it! 

I quickly became engrossed, and discovered another satisfying dual storyline created by Ms. Williams. The majority of the storyline however, is spent in the 20s with Ginger “Gin” Kelly and her fight to bring down her bootlegging stepfather while conspiring with the dark, handsome, yet cold as ice prohibition agent, Oliver Anson. Which was perfectly fine with me – this was a very engrossing and thrilling part to the story!

The modern storyline with Ella Gilbert is just as satisfying as Gin Kelly’s, don’t get me wrong there though. After discovering her husband with a prostitute, Ella moves out to Greenwich Village into the building on Christopher Street. While in the basement of the apartment building she can hear jazz music coming through the walls. This used to be the speakeasy that Gin Kelly was a frequent patron of, but the handsome resident Ella meets in the laundry room warns her to stay away from the basement at night. Ella is reeling from her shocking discovery and betrayal, and is at first a little mousy and unsure of herself, but as the story moves forward, she quickly comes into her own, developing into a strong woman, looking to take her life back and move forward to a better life – with handsome Hector or not?

The aspect of The Wicked City I quibbled with, was in the linking of the two storylines. I’m not sure it’s as strong or linked as I had hoped? There are plenty of loose threads that don’t seem to come together, such as the identity of Gin’s real father (we never actually do find out who he is, despite some allusion to attempting to identify him), the mysterious music and sounds coming from the basement aren’t fully pulled into the story – like the reason why music can be heard in the present day – ghosts? I didn’t think that fully realized. Ella also doesn’t find out about Gin Kelly and her part in the speakeasy boarded up below the apartment, until almost the very end and again, I don’t think the two women’s stories are strongly linked.

Because the ending left a few too many unanswered questions for me, I give this one a firm and solid 4-star rating. It is very enjoyable, engrossing and a great thrill ride! My quibbles may just be little because overall, it was once again a real treat to read a Beatriz Williams’ book.  Cocoa Beach is out next! Coming in the summer. :-)