Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Circle of Wives - Alice LaPlante

I loved Alice LaPlante's award winning debut novel - Turn of Mind. It was a mystery told through the eyes of woman in the throes of Alzheimer's disease.

Her newest book A Circle of Wives is another mystery that keeps us guessing. Who is telling the truth? Who can be believed?

Renowned and wealthy surgeon Dr. John Taylor is found dead of an apparent heart attack. But when an autopsy reveals suggestions of foul play, the case is handed over to Detective Samantha Adams. This is her first serious case.

The immediate suspect is of course the person closest to the victim - in this case, Taylor's wife Deborah. Or perhaps it's his other wife MJ?  When a newspaper runs a story on the doctor's death, that's when MJ discovers Taylor's bigamy. And then a third wife pops up.

"What's going on is the inaugural meeting of John Taylor's spouses, says Deborah. Would we qualify as a coven? A harem? What is the term for a group of wives? Circle. We are a circle of wives."

Was it one of his wives who ended Dr. Taylor's life? Which one of them hated Taylor enough to kill him? Did one of the wives suspect he had more than one spouse?

LaPlante tells her story from the viewpoint of each of the wives as well as Samantha, the detective.

LaPlante has written an excellent mystery. But just as good are the character studies of each main player. They all have reasons to want John dead and each has their own secrets to keep. LaPlante fleshes them out, leaving us to ponder just which one of them is capable of murder and cunning enough to get away with it. I quite liked Samantha as a protagonist. Her struggle to be taken seriously, her dogged determination and her own personal life provided a great secondary story line.

Another thoroughly enjoyable read from LaPlante. Read an excerpt of A Circle of Wives.

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