The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rendell (2013)

Genre: Historical Fiction
Interest Level: Adult
The Other TypistStep back into the Roaring Twenties in New York City, the era of Prohibition, sinful flappers and daring bobs, clear class distinctions and a lotta crime. And when the sweaty cops bring in the suspects, Rose Baker types up the interviews and confessions. An orphan grateful she can earn a living, Rose prides herself on doing her work well. An admitted prude, she remains resolutely unmoved by the sordid tales she hears as the city’s finest bring criminals to justice. Her days are predictable, and Rose is, if not happy, at least satisfied. Until the department hires another typist. Odalie Lazarre arrives and fascinates the lonely Rose with her fur-lined coat, daring dress and easy laugh. Rose finds herself slowly pulled into the flamboyant Odalie’s glittering world of speakeasies, cab rides and fancy meals, until she is trapped by her obsession and her own actions, leading to an ending that changes everything for the reader. First-time novelist Rendell, a PhD student in literature, has perfectly captured the ambiance of life in 1920s New York City, as influential on the story as any character. An exploration of the pitched battle between tradition and modernity, the author also presents the reader with a series of questions she leaves unanswered: what is reality? whose perspective matters? how do you trust your understanding of what has happened? Apart from a too-heavy reliance on foreshadowing, this is a terrific story that lingers long after the last page.

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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