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The Wicked City


The Wicked City

New York Times bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings 1920s New York City to life in THE WICKED CITY. With alternating story lines between modern-day 1998 and the Gilded Age of 1924, Williams weaves together the stories of two vastly different women whose lives unknowingly intertwine. Ella Gilbert is a forensic accountant from a wealthy family living with her husband, Patrick, when she finds him cheating and moves out. Geneva “Gin” Kelly is the fiery stepdaughter of bootlegger tycoon Duke Kelly from River Junction, Maryland, whose family had nothing before Duke’s latest business venture. Gin and Ella prove how certain things have a way of tracking you down and finding you, especially in a wicked city.

The book is divided into five acts and begins to unfold after Ella moves into the same apartment building that Gin resided in 74 years earlier on Christopher St. in Greenwich Village. In Act I, we learn the backstories of Williams’ two leading ladies. Ella has just moved into her new apartment. Hector, her charming new neighbor, warns her to stay out of the basement at night because the echoes of the notorious Christopher Club continue to roar next door with the sounds of jazz music and 1920s Prohibition nightlife. After trying to find the source of the noise and locking herself out, Ella looks to Hector for help, and the pair bond over music and bourbon.

"Ella and Gin are interesting and unpredictable, leaving readers wondering what they will do next.... Williams fills her story with vivid imagery, a thrilling plot and compelling characters."

In her flashbacks, Williams captures a classic ’20s vibe with the witty and free-spirited voice of Gin, whose story starts up as the Christopher Club is raided. Gin is arrested and taken in for questioning by supposed Revenue Agent Oliver Anson, who is after her stepfather. When Gin is released, she receives a telegram reporting her mother’s near death. As a result, she takes the next train back to the hometown and the stepfather she hoped never to see again.

In Act II, Gin discovers the recent upgrades of her hometown that have resulted from her stepfather’s business. Her once-disheveled family home is now stocked with a grand library, French furniture, marble flooring and a wait staff. Unfortunately, all the money in the world could not cure Gin’s mother from consumption and the years spent as Duke’s wife. Gin’s abusive past is revealed, and Duke warns her not to get in the way of his business. On the train back to New York City, Gin agrees to a deal with the honorable Mr. Anson, who has been keeping a close eye. Back to 1998, Ella is assigned to investigate her husband’s place of employment where she finally runs into him. Ella’s apartment also floods, which only pushes her and Hector, the musician/carpenter, together even more.

Act III details the nature of Gin’s double agent affairs as she delivers parcels for Duke and reports back to Anson, determined to take down her stepfather. The tension also builds between Gin and Anson as they begin meeting in secret and working together. However, their pursuits lead to an attack on Gin’s life, and Anson is faithfully there to save her. Gin questions if the man was one of Duke’s since her parcels have recently stopped coming. On the next day, a parcel appears for her to meet a Macduff who surprisingly works for the Prohibition Bureau and informs Gin of Anson’s deception.

The twists only begin here and continue to unfold throughout the rest of the book. Gin faces the wrath of her vindictive stepfather and the truth behind Anson. Ella confronts the remorse of her cheating husband and the inexplicable noise of a booming speakeasy. Gin must question whom she can really trust, and Ella must decide what kind of future she wants in a heart-pounding finale that uncovers the connection between these two unlikely women.

Beatriz Williams creates two contrasting and multi-dimensional lead female characters in her captivating story of sin and deception. Ella and Gin are interesting and unpredictable, leaving readers wondering what they will do next. The author superbly writes two distinctly different voices that easily flow together to tell her riveting story. At every turn, there are plot twists and secrets revealed that make you hang on to the edge of every page. Williams fills her story with vivid imagery, a thrilling plot and compelling characters. I only wish the book was longer to give me more details and answer more questions about the lives of the characters she envisioned.

Reviewed by Catherine Rubino on January 18, 2017

The Wicked City
by Beatriz Williams