Set in Prohibition Era New York City, Rindell’s story is one of intrigue and crime. Protagonist and narrator Rose is an orphaned, self-described “plain” girl raised by nuns. Her adult life is spent sharing a room with narcissistic Helen in a woman’s boarding house in Brooklyn. From here she travels to her job as a typist in a police precinct on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Her days are dull and predictable until the arrival of a new typist, Odalie. Charming and mysterious, Odalie captures Rose’s imagination. She takes Rose under her wing, wins her trust and even invites Rose to move into her luxurious uptown apartment.
Odalie is a bootlegger and runs a speakeasy. Her numerous contacts, glamorous lifestyle and reputation dazzle Rose. It also opens her eyes to the corruption in the precinct and confuses her own moral compass.
Things come to a head when an old acquaintance, Teddy, threatens to expose Odalie’s murky past. A dramatic death casts suspicion over the group. Initially it seems Odalie is to blame, or was Rose framed by Odalie?
Rindell ensures enough ambiguity to make us question Rose’s innocence. Especially when Rose begins to reference her doctor’s instruction to recall events chronologically. I won’t spoil the ending, but I’ll just say there’s a nice little dark twist.
Not quite Tartt’s The Secret History, but definitely not light and fluffy either. Rindell is a solid storyteller. I would definitely read another of her books and happily recommend this one. Plus, what a great cover!