Monday, December 12, 2011

The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti

 This book has been placed on my all-time favorites list.  
To purchase from Amazon, click on the book cover.

 A true story from Philadelphia in 1938 that puzzled the police. 

Lovers, drugs, gangs, the mafia, secret meetings, big insurance policies, dead husbands….that is what the Wicked Wives were made of.

These wives had many things in common and one of them was planning how to murder their husbands and not get caught so they could collect the insurance money. All this resulted in one dead husband after another, and the doctor listed the deaths from a rampant bout of pneumonia occurring in the city of Philadelphia. The wicked wives were not alone in the planning, though. The mastermind of the wicked wives’ plots was Giorgio…a tailor who was only out for himself and who had women wrapped around his lies.

The book is filled with corruption and “seedy” dealings and characters. It is very character-driven with each character more interesting than the next. Despite their flaws and wicked ways, every character made you want to learn more about their past. You won’t hate any of the characters….you will want to learn why and how they turned out the way they did. They actually are quite an interesting mix.

The character descriptions were outstanding. Each of the wicked wives came packed with a lot of interesting details and mischief. The wives are mostly well-to-do, bored and unsavory underneath, but you can’t put the book down because you will want to find out what they are up to next. There actually is a “wives” club with a leader named The Lady in Black. She is always disguised and no one will reveal who she is, but you do find out in the end…AND…you will be surprised. The male characters are also colorful, humorous, mostly Italian, and deadly. All the characters are based on real-life people.

The book is a mix of history and personal lives. If you are a history buff, you will definitely want to research this era. The police work, the courts, and the way medical advice and “doctoring” was done will definitely be of interest.

The main characters Lillian and Giorgio are quite a pair. Lillian always gets her man/men. She even has an affair with her uncle before and after her husband’s demise. Giorgio is a gigolo who won’t stop with one woman. He has a past of ruthless killings. Since he is Sicilian, he states that he won’t kiss and tell nor will he “rat” on anyone. He keeps everyone anonymous…his women and his deeds.

The good guys are far and few in between. Even the police are corrupt except for Tom Rossi, who was Giorgio’s childhood friend. They both suffered ethnic slurs and tormenting as they grew up, but Tom made something of himself….he actually became the Assistant D.A. Tom was an honest District Attorney and had a girlfriend who became quite an interesting person in the Philly Poison Ring and in her connection with the wicked wives.

Uncle Bill Evans, was a cop on the take and was always doing underhanded things to make himself look good and to protect himself and Lillian. He gave Tom a lot of trouble because of his girlfriend and because Tom was interfering with the investigation of the death of Lillian’s husband.

This book was very well written and fast-paced. I really enjoyed this book despite all the corruption and “seedy” things going on. It definitely held my interest especially because of the depth of the characters, but also because of the subject matter, the time in history, the humor, and how people lie and commit horrible acts for money and love. I highly recommend reading this book if you are a history buff and/or of Italian descent. This would make a fantastic movie.  5/5


  1. This books was so good.

    You have to read it. :)

  2. Hey! Thanks for following me. I used to live in Pittsburg. :) The book seems interesting, but not my kind of thing.

  3. Oh, it looks like a great read.

  4. Wow - that does sound good! I love a book that's based on true events.

  5. Hi Elizabeth .. it does sound a fascinating book - and just the kind of thing I enjoy. Definitely one to keep in mind .. thanks for highlighting for us - cheers Hilary

  6. This looks fascinating! I've just finished adding it to my wish list. Thanks for the tip. :-)

  7. This sounds like a book with a LOT of layers! So impressive!

  8. I have this to review on my shelf next year - I am glad you enjoyed it

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd OUt

  9. Oo Im from Philly gonna check it out. Thanks!!

  10. Wow...The Wicked Wives sounds really good (and I don't usually read grown up books)!

  11. It really sounds like a great book, I'll be checking back for the giveaway.

  12. Very interesting, great review, one of your favourites wow.

    I hadn't considered the history aspect.

  13. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I think I'll pass on this one. Great review just don't think it's up my alley. ;0)

  14. Wow. This does sound like a great read. Thanks for the review.

  15. THANKS, Donna. I loved the book.

    And....thanks for your vote in the Top Writing Contest.

  16. thanks for the review!!! I am always looking for new books to read...this sounds like a good read.

  17. Based on these comments, I have to give this another try. I had trouble getting into it.

  18. Based on these comments, I have to give this another try. I had trouble getting into it.

    1. I hope you do give it another try.

      I thought it was quite good.

      Thanks for stopping, Virginia.