Tuesday, March 31, 2015

468 (2015 #25). The Other Typist

by Suzanne Rindell

This book was chosen for the "One Book, One Conference" program at the upcoming Texas Library Association meeting, so I decided to read it.

Although it is set in the past (1923-24), I wouldn't describe this novel as pure historical fiction.  Too many little details are wrong.  Terms like "role model" (pages 66 and 68, not used until 1955-60) and "blue collar" (page 290, not used until 1945-50) would not have been used in conversations occuring in the 1920s.   Moreover, a pregnant woman (albeit a minor character) working in a male-dominated office in that era is also unrealistic.

However, as a mystery or suspense novel, this book really succeeds for me.  Rose is a rather prim-and-proper typist transcribing confessions in a New York City police precinct office when a new typist named Odalie is hired.  Rose is intrigued by Odalie from the start and soon gets caught up in Odalie's shady lifestyle, visiting speakeasies with here at the height of Prohibition.  As Rose looks back - from what appears to be a psych ward - and tells the story, some sinister aspects of Odalie's character appear.

Or *is* it Odalie?  After all, we have an unreliable narrator here.

The climax and ending will prompt much discussion for a book club.

© Amanda Pape - 2015

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]

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