It all went on harmoniously, that is, until they hired the other typist. – from The Other Typist –
It is Prohibition and Rose Baker is working as a typist in the New York City Police Department. Each day she carefully records confessions, then returns to her gloomy boarding house where she shares a room with a woman she dislikes. The times are changing – gone are the Victorian standards women have become accustomed to, and behind the closed doors of Speakeasy’s, women with bobbed hair are drinking and dancing on tables. Rose, who is rather traditional, views all these changes as an outsider…until the Police Department hires a new typist, a woman with shiny bobbed hair and a charismatic personality named Odalie. Rose is smitten, and as she and Odalie become friends, everything Rose has come to depend upon begins to change.
The Other Typist is Suzanne Rindell’s debut novel and it is a wonderfully plotted page-turner. Early on, the reader begins to suspect that Rose, as well as Odalie, are not who they first appear. Rose narrates the tale after the fact, hinting that things go terribly wrong, but keeping the reader on the edge of her seat as she unspools the story.
A horrible disaster was looming on my horizon, so to speak, but from the very moment I met Odalie I was rendered utterly powerless to do anything other than watch it hurtle toward me. But, of course, if I am to tell it all in order, as I keep promising to do, there are other things I must tell first. – from The Other Typist –
Rose is a fascinating, unreliable character and throughout this novel I was never sure whether the “facts” she was relating were true, embellished, or simply false. Rindell spins her story deftly with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing…and the ending was perfect.
Rindell captures the mood and feel of the mid-1920s spectacularly with wonderful descriptions of New York Speakeasy’s. The police characters and the suspects they interview reminded me of the hard boiled detective novels that have been so popular. I could almost see this as a black and white noir film.
I cannot reveal more about this novel without spoiling it, so all I will say is: Pick up a copy and read it for yourself. I guarantee that readers are going to be talking about this book and book clubs will be choosing it to discuss. It is hard to believe this is a first novel.
Readers who love unreliable narrators, twisty tales, and stories set during Prohibition, will want to read The Other Typist.
FTC Disclosure: Many thanks to Amy Einhorn Books for sending me a copy of this novel for review on my blog.