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by Alice LaPlante
Atlantic Monthly Press, March 2014
325 pages
ISBN: 0802122345

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Dr John Taylor, a well known plastic surgeon, is found dead in a hotel room near his home. Questions immediately surround the death. Why was he staying in a hotel near his house when his wife thought he was out of town on business? Why were there so many abrasions on his body if he died from a heart attack? And where was the room key? But even these inconsistencies don't prepare Detective Samantha Adams for the discovery from an anonymous tip that the good doctor had multiple wives and that the first wife - the actual legal wife - was aware of the others. How could this possibly be? Dr and Mrs Taylor were pillars of the community. He was highly respected for his charity work doing corrective surgery on seriously maimed children, his wife Deborah for all of her community work through the various boards and committees she chaired or served on. How could this model couple have hidden such a shocking secret life?

A CIRCLE OF WIVES is a hard book to categorize. While it is to some degree a police procedural in that readers do follow Detective Samantha Adams as she investigates the murder of Dr Taylor, the police investigation is overshadowed by so many other elements in the book. The book is told in ever shifting points of view rotating among the various wives and Samantha. While all of this slowly reveals the complicated life of the doctor and sheds a bit of light on the nature of the various relationships the women had with him, it doesn't really allow the reader to get to know any of the characters very well. If readers can't feel a connection to the characters, it's hard to care about them or stay connected to their story. Also, through Samantha's narratives, readers are left to sort through her personal story while trying to follow the investigation, creating another disconnect to the actual crime and the investigation. There are also a couple of surprising twists dropped into the plot taking the investigation in new directions, but in the case of at least the last big one, there isn't much foundation laid for it.

A CIRCLE OF WIVES is a pleasant read if one enjoys books in the chick lit genre, but probably not particularly satisfying for readers looking for a new police procedural series. The book feels much more like a Lifetime Movie than crime fiction.

Caryn St.Clair resides in University City, Missouri and is a former elementary school media specialist, President of the Parks Commission and a docent at the St.Louis Zoo.

Reviewed by Caryn St Clair, March 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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