Book Review: A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante

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Rating: 3 / 5

When Dr. John Taylor is found dead in a hotel room, the death is initially determined to be from a heart attack. But, upon closer inspection, there is a mark that indicates that he was injected with a chemical prior to death.  Detective Samantha Adams has been assigned to the case, and as she digs into the life of Dr. Taylor, she realizes Dr. Taylor has been keeping secrets, namely that he was currently married to three separate women.  

In terms of suspense, A Circle of Wives has it in spades.  I couldn’t stop reading because I had to know who killed Dr. Taylor.  LaPlante’s writing of this murder/mystery reminds me a lot of James Patterson’s writing: quick short chapters ending with cliffhangers.  ‘Just one more chapter’ extended into  reading an additional 14 chapters, and before I knew it, I had finished the book in a little over a day.  A Circle of Wives is told from the perspective of all three wives: Deborah, MJ, and Helen, as well as Detective Adams, and surprisingly, it was easy for me to keep the characters differentiated.  The three wives are unique and vastly different from one another.  Deborah, the first wife, is controlling and enjoys the prestige of being a doctor’s wife.  MJ is a hippie accountant with a difficult past and no need for the trappings of being married to someone with money.  And then there is Helen.  While John mainly lives in the San Jose area with Deborah and MJ miles apart, Helen lives in Los Angeles with a thriving pediatric oncology practice.  Each wive’s motive for killing John is not readily apparent, as MJ and Helen did not even know the other person existed. But since the chapters are from the Deborah, MJ, and Helen’s perspectives, the psyche of each is slowly revealed.

A Circle of Wives is a quick and entertaining read, but after I finished, I can’t say that it really wowed me.  I can see how someone can be married to two people and keep those lives separate and distinct.   Three wives, however, I find impossible, especially with two in the same general metropolitan area.  And while I understand people keeping their professional and personal lives separate, I found it hard to believe that none of the doctors Dr. Taylor worked with ever met Deborah.  Dr. Taylor was billed as being a well known local humanitarian, performing reconstructive surgeries on children, so the fact that no one knew about his first wife, and his wives never crossed paths is far-fetched.

In the End: A Circle of Wives is definitely a page turner, but ultimately not as satisfying as LaPlante’s previous novel, Turn of Mind

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