Official Review: The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti

Discuss the July 2015 book of the month, The Wicked Wives: A Novel Based on a True Story by Gus Pelagatti.
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Official Review: The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti

Post by bookowlie » 25 Apr 2015, 12:51

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Wicked Wives" by Gus Pelagatti. This book will be the July 2015 book of the month!]
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4 out of 4 stars
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The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti is a historical fiction novel based on a true story that took place in the late 1930's. The author first heard about these crimes when he was eight years old and overheard his mother gossiping. After a career as a trial attorney, he becomes interested in writing a fictionalized account of these notorious crimes.

A bunch of Philadelphia housewives individually conspire with a local tailor, Giorgio DiSipio, to murder their husbands for the insurance money. Of course, the tailor takes a cut of the money. Initially, Lillian Stoner’s mother-in-law implores the D.A.’s Office to investigate her son’s death. She thinks his symptoms were not pneumonia and suspects that her philandering daughter-in-law had a role in his demise. As the deaths of other married men start piling up, 1st Assistant District Attorney Tom Rossi digs further to discover if they were murdered and if there is a link between the cases. What he finds is much bigger than he could have ever imagined.

Each woman’s backstory is described in detail, so that you understand their motives. While money is the driving force, each of the women has specific problems. For example, Eva had a gambling problem and owed a lot of money to a mob bookie. In addition, most of the women are having an affair with Giorgio and some are even in love with him. There is a large cast of characters, yet the author manages to weave their stories together seamlessly. I had no trouble remembering who each person was and their individual story.

All of the characters are well-drawn and interesting. Most of them aren’t likeable, but I was spellbound by their depravity and lack of conscience. Boris Feldman, aka the Rabbi, is a particularly entertaining character during the interrogations and courtroom scenes.

The Philadelphia setting serves as a colorful backdrop. You will experience dirty politics, which this city has had a long reputation for, bribery, and prejudice against Jews, blacks and Italians. The author paints a detailed picture of the local shops, restaurants, cars, and the general flavor of the 1930’s era.

The story moves at a rapid pace in the first part of the book. Two of the women are introduced and their husbands die in the first few chapters. I was sucked in right from the start. The pace slows down as the plot switches gears to the arrests and trials. Still, the story is no less engaging during these scenes.

There is one major twist at the end that is fairly shocking. I thought the way Tom realized this twist didn’t seem realistic. I wonder if his suspicion actually happened that way in real life.

I think the author would have benefitted by using a different title than The Wicked Wives. The title makes the book sounds like a cheesy romance or a chick-lit story about witches. This is an excellent story that should appeal to both men and women. A different title might attract a wider group of readers.

This book deserves nothing less than 4 out of 4 stars. I loved every minute of this riveting story. I recommend this book to any adult who likes to read a well-written, absorbing tale. It’s much more than just a juicy crime story. It’s simply one great book.

******
The Wicked Wives
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Post by zeldas_lullaby » 28 Apr 2015, 19:36

Great review! Congrats to the author too--this book sounds fabulous.

Murdering your husbands for the insurance money--that's just cold. :-o

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Post by bookowlie » 28 Apr 2015, 20:45

Thanks! The wives' individual stories and motives are very interesting. The tailor "drives the train" and manipulates them, although the women are willing participants.
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Post by zeldas_lullaby » 28 Apr 2015, 20:54

Oh... OK. You know, I always wondered how tailors ever made any money.

"I think the author would have benefitted by using a different title than The Wicked Wives. The title makes the book sounds like a cheesy romance..."

They're wicked, not naughty. :o

"... or a chick-lit story about witches..."

They're wicked, not wiccans. :o

HA HA! Just teasing.

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Post by bookowlie » 28 Apr 2015, 21:03

Ha ha, very clever! Seriously, I wish the book had a different title so that it would attract a wider group of readers. The existing title makes me think of all of those Real Housewives reality shows.....trash TV. The story is actually a riveting crime story based on a true murder conspiracy. I think men would love this book as much as women.
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Post by PashaRu » 28 Apr 2015, 21:22

Thanks for the review. This is interesting to me because of the events on which it is based. But historical fiction is tricky and difficult to write. Sounds like this one is more of a hit than a miss.
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Post by Kuartalia » 28 Apr 2015, 21:29

This review is great! Nice work. :)

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Post by gali » 28 Apr 2015, 22:11

Thank you for the lovely review. I am glad you enjoyed it. :)
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by bookowlie » 28 Apr 2015, 22:20

PashaRu wrote:Thanks for the review. This is interesting to me because of the events on which it is based. But historical fiction is tricky and difficult to write. Sounds like this one is more of a hit than a miss.
Thanks! I agree that historical fiction is tricky to write. Then you add in the task of writing fiction based on true events. Frankly, I thought the author hit it out of the park in so many areas - plot, character development, historical accuracy of the era, and a surprising twist or two. This is one of those books that really stayed with me days after finishing it.

-- 28 Apr 2015, 23:25 --

Thanks Gali and Kuartalia for the kind words. It's one of the best books I've read in the past year.
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Post by Ealasaid » 29 Apr 2015, 19:54

Fantastic review! What an interesting piece of history to choose to write about. That evil tailor and those wives! :eusa-naughty: Can't wait to read.
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Post by zeldas_lullaby » 29 Apr 2015, 20:19

Ealasaid wrote: That evil tailor and those wives! :eusa-naughty:
HA HA, that's funny!

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Post by bookowlie » 29 Apr 2015, 20:54

Ealasaid wrote:Fantastic review! What an interesting piece of history to choose to write about. That evil tailor and those wives! :eusa-naughty: Can't wait to read.
Thanks Ealasaid! Well, the tailor was evil, but the wives were pretty bad, too.
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Post by bluemel4 » 03 May 2015, 17:14

Wonderful and entertaining review. I agree about the title. This is going on my to-read list.
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Post by zeldas_lullaby » 03 May 2015, 17:44

Well, if you all feel that way, then maybe the author should add a subtitle. Any thoughts?

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Post by bookowlie » 03 May 2015, 18:05

Thanks Bluemel4! The book is a real page turner.

-- 03 May 2015, 19:32 --
zeldas_lullaby wrote:Well, if you all feel that way, then maybe the author should add a subtitle. Any thoughts?
I have a few ideas, but I would probably get banned for bad suggestions. :roll: :doh:
"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship" - Louisa May Alcott

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