The Wicked City

New York City, 1998: After discovering her husband in the act of adultery, Ella Gilbert flees their SoHo loft for a quirky building in the West Village. As she adjusts to her new surroundings (and her too-handsome upstairs neighbor), Ella begins hearing strange noises from the basement. The place was a speakeasy in the 1920s, but it's been empty for decades.

New York City, 1924: Geneva Rose "Gin" Kelly, streetwise and smart-mouthed, escaped her backwoods Maryland town to build a life in the city. Spending her days in the typing pool and her nights drinking bootleg alcohol suits Gin just fine, but she can't entirely shake her scheming stepfather, Duke, whose connections extend all the way to Gin's favorite speakeasy. When Gin receives a summons to her dying mother's bedside, she finds her carefully separate worlds suddenly on a collision course.

Williams (A Certain Age; Along the Infinite Sea) evokes the glitter and scandal of Jazz Age New York, as Gin narrates her own story with understated, dry wit. The occasional leaps back into Ella's slower present-day narrative feel like interruptions, though readers of Williams's previous Schuyler family novels will enjoy glimpses of several familiar characters. As Ella struggles to define herself apart from her husband, Gin's definitions--of herself, whom she loves and whom she can trust (not always the same people)--are shifting by the minute. Williams ratchets up the action on each successive page, leaving readers no choice but to race after Gin as she pursues love, revenge and the perfect stiff drink. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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