Ella visited the laundry room for the first time at half past six on the Saturday morning at the beginning of March. ~ Opening of The Wicked City
Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
Wicked City by Beatriz Williams
William Morrow, 2017
Fiction (Historical); 366 pgs
I have a couple of Beatriz Williams books in my TBR collection, and when I saw the tour for The Wicked City come up a few months ago, I decided to use it as an excuse to finally give her work a try. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, but seem to be reading it more and more in the last few years. This one particularly appealed to be because of the setting: New York during the Prohibition.
I enjoy dual timeline novels featuring a contemporary story as well as a historical one. The historical stories often draw me in the most, and it was no different with The Wicked City. I did find the contemporary story line—set about a decade ago—compelling as well. Ella is renting a studio apartment in The Village, having just left her cheating husband. The building in which she lives is an old one with quite a bit of character. Sometimes at night one can hear jazz music playing, which Ella convinces herself is her neighbor, Hector, a musician and carpenter, but even that explanation doesn’t quite seem to fit. Back in the 1920’s during Prohibition, the building next door housed a speakeasy which Ginger Kelly frequented. Ginger Kelly had left home to strike out on her own at a young age, wanting to escape her stepfather. As the novel unfolds, the reader gets a closer look into Ginger Kelly’s life. Gin has not had it easy, but she makes the most of what she does have. One night, after being arrested, a bureau man offers her a deal. Agent Anson is after a big fish and he believes Ginger can help him catch his prey.
Gin is such a fun character. She’s got charisma and grit. She lives her life pretty loose, but it is obvious she is smart and resourceful. Initially when her character was introduced, it took me a moment to settle into Gin’s narrative. She had the vernacular of the 1920’s and I wanted to get the voice just right in my mind as I read. Gin is pretty street-wise and not one to take anything sitting down even when the odds are against her. I loved that about her. Her more modern counterpart, Ella, is less sure of herself, but should not be counted out. Her story definitely takes second stage to Gin’s, but I found myself just as interested in Ella as Gin, wanting to know what she would decide about her marriage and how everything would play out. In many ways, Gin’s story seemed more complete than Ella’s by the end of the book. I still have questions regarding Gin, but so much more was left in the air with Ella. One of my favorite scenes in the novel is when Ella confronts her husband, Patrick. It was a beautiful moment in which Ella finally lets out some of that anger she has been bottling up. I am also very curious about her job as a forensic accountant—I can see why she loves it. While numbers are not really my thing, I do like solving puzzles, not to mention a good mystery, and it sounds like her job can hold a lot of that.
The apartment building on Christopher Street is a bit of a character itself. I liked the way the author describes the building in the contemporary timeline—the reader gets the sense of the importance of its history, which, of course, we see some of in the historical story line. Hector is very much a part of the building. He’s a kind and observant man, not to mention easy of the eyes from the sounds of it. He seems like the kind of person one his friends can rely on and trust with their life.
I had little idea what to expect in this novel, and it was always surprising me. There’s a bit of a love triangle, some action, and a lot of intrigue. I understand this is going to be the first in a series, which I am a little relieved about given some threads of the story were left loose just enough to have me wishing I knew what had happened after I reached the end. That isn’t to say the novel has a cliffhanger ending—it doesn’t really and can be read as a stand alone. I thoroughly enjoyed The Wicked City and my time spent with both Gin and Ella. I really like Beatriz Williams writing style, and I always enjoy seeing how an author will bring her dual timelines together. I will definitely be reading more by Beatriz Williams in the near future.
I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Wicked City on the TLC Book Tours route!
Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review.
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