May 6, 2014

A Circle of Wives

A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante
2014 Atlantic Monthly Press
Finished on 2/20/14
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher’s blurb:

Following her internationally acclaimed, New York Times bestselling debut novel, Turn of Mind, Alice LaPlante returns with a searing and spellbinding psychological thriller of marital deception, revenge, and murder. In A Circle of Wives, three women discover just how fine the line between love and hate can be, as the ultimate betrayal shatters their marriages and threatens their dreams.

When Dr. John Taylor turns up dead in a hotel room, the local police uncover enough incriminating evidence to suspect foul play. Detective Samantha Adams, whose Palo Alto beat usually covers petty crimes in the wealthy town, is innocently thrown into the high-profile murder case that is more complicated than any she has faced before.

A renowned reconstructive surgeon and a respected family man, Dr. Taylor was beloved and admired. But beneath his perfect façade was a hidden life—in fact, multiple lives. Dr. Taylor was married to three very different women in three separate cities: Deborah, a calculating, high-society housewife; MJ, a free-spirited accountant; and newlywed Helen, an ambitious oncologist. When all three women show up at his funeral, suspicions run high. And as the curious circumstances surrounding his death emerge, Detective Adams finds herself drawn into the entanglements of their relationships, tracking down a murderer through a deceitful web of domestic discord.

A haunting and complex novel of family secrets, A Circle of Wives dissects—with scalpel-like agility—the intricacies of desire and commitment, trust and jealousy. With a riveting combination of suspense, vivid prose, and remarkable character insight, Alice LaPlante has crafted a provocative and surprising thriller of passion and obsession.

Narrated from four points of view, this fast-paced mystery had me reading late into the night, yet failed to impress me like LaPlante’s debut novel, Turn of Mind. I returned to the book every day, eager to discover the identity of the killer, but the dialogue and characters (particularly Sam) didn’t ring true. The death of Dr. Taylor is Sam’s first murder case and she seems far too ditzy (a la Stephanie Plum, minus the car explosions and clumsiness) to be in charge of such an important investigation.

Final Thoughts:

I loved LaPlante’s thought-provoking debut thriller, Turn of Mind, and am so sorry that she was unable to avoid the sophomore slump with A Circle of Wives. In spite of my disappointment, I believe LaPlante is a talented writer and I look forward to her next endeavor.

Click here to read my review of Turn of Mind.


  1. This appeals to me because of the polygamy aspect.

    1. Hope you enjoy it, Kathy. I'll be on the lookout for your review.

  2. I wanted to try this, but the more I thought about it, I just couldn't deal with another book on polygamy.

    1. I think The 19th Wife was enough for me with regard to this subject matter.


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