• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks;
Reprint edition (December 26, 2017)
In the first book of a breathtaking new trilogy by bestselling author Beatriz Williams, two generations of women are brought together inside a Greenwich Village apartment —a flapper hiding an extraordinary past, and a modern-day Manattanite forced to start her life anew.
When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes her SoHo loft for a studio in Greenwich Village. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the basement was home to one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies.
In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of the biggest bootleggers in Appalachia.
But Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, and their alliance rattles Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead.
As Ella unravels the strange history of her new building—and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly—she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her exuberant predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her existence in the wicked city.
Campaign hashtags for Twitter and Instagram posts: #BeatrizBinge #TheWickedCity.
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In 1924 Geneva, or Gin, as her friends call her, has become entwined in the atmosphere of Manhattan's speakeasies. A typist by day, Gin let's loose in the evenings and often visits the speakeasy, Christopher's in the basement of the building next door to her apartment. Life is good for Gin until Christopher's is raided one night and she is pulled back into the life she thought she had escaped and the step-father she would rather forget back in River Junction Maryland. Prohibition officer Oliver Anson has recruited Gin to help him bring down one of the biggest bootleggers in the East, her step-father Duke Kelly. At first, Gin is hesitant, but when she returns home to see how Duke has influenced everyone, she agrees to join, the stoic and strong prohibition officer on his mission. Recently, in 1998, Ella Hawthorne walks in on her husband cheating and promptly walks out of their home. Ella finds refuge in a humble apartment on Christopher street. Ella immediately finds a friend in her upstairs neighbor, Hector. Hector also gives her a warning to not go downstairs to the laundry room at night since there was a speakeasy in the basement next door and strange sounds can still be heard.
I found myself immediately pulled into The Wicked City. The writing and the characters grabbed my attention. First of all, I adore dual time stories. I do admit that Gin's story grasped my attention more; the writing so perfectly conveyed Gin's personality that I felt that this is someone that I would want to be friends with. Her strength, resolve and willingness to do what was right for her family and town made Gin irresistible to me and the other characters. I loved her sayings and her witty banter, everything she said felt so perfect for the time period but not overly done. The city itself also became a character; the city becomes alive as Gin states:
"...and I thought I had made a terrible mistake, that I would never belong in this sea of stink and vice, this hive of determined bees ling heir cells with hones. Ant then I tasted the honey, honey , and I stared to understand what New York City was all about. Hallelujah. I started to glimpse my place in the hive, how each tiny insect contributed her mite of pollen, how grand it was to live in a hive like this at all..."
With the city taking on a life of it's own, it made more sense that there was a lingering of spirits and the hint of a ghost story waiting in the wings for Ella to find and explore. I do feel like this side of the story could have been expanded, but the air of mystery it left was ideal for the atmosphere. As Ella connected more with Gin's story line, I did feel a stronger pull toward her as well. As Ella and Gin's story lines weaved together, I could see the parallels of their situations despite the years apart, both women were dealing with issues within their professions, man troubles and above all else, a new found sense of independence. Overall, a great mix of history, atmosphere, mystery and a touch of romance. I can't wait to see where it goes next!
This story was received for free in return for an honest review.
A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.
Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.