Book Review: The Other Typist
Author: Suzanne Rindell
Publisher: Penguin Books
Number of Pages: 354
My Rating: 3
Summary from GoodReads.com:
New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.
Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.
But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist’s spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls’ friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose’s fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.
But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?
Prohibition was hot-hot-hot! but this book ran a little cold.
I will start off by saying that the idea of the story was fabulous and the plot was intriguing enough, but there was something about this book that made me take FOREVER to read it! For some reason, this just wasn’t a book I was excited about and there were times I felt like I had to make myself pick it up and read in order to see what happened. But I will add this- I did keep reading. I could have easily given up and forgot about it but the characters prevented me from doing that.
The book takes place in New York City in the 1920’s during the height of Prohibition. Suzanne Rindell does an excellent job describing the setting and making you genuinely feel like you can see and feel this time period. Half the time that I was reading I found myself wanting to wear a flapper dress and grab a cocktail! While it did seem like there were some historical inaccuracies (I’m a history buff, I can’t help it!) for the most part she created a world that brought you back, which I felt was very important for a story like this.
The main character, Rose, works in a police precinct as a typist, oftentimes having to type up reports involving gruesome crimes, robberies, and murders. An orphan raised by nuns, she is very prim and proper and definitely is a rule-follower. She works hard at her job and somewhat scoffs at the drunks and criminals that she deals with on a day-to-basis, not agreeing with their choices or lifestyles. Her attitude changes, however, when a new typist is hired.
Odalie swoops in to the precinct for an interview one day, and gets hired immediately. She has a purring voice, expensive clothes, and an addicting personality. Before Rose knows it, she is under Odalie’s spell; she finds herself observing Odalie’s behaviors and keeping track of things she does and says. While Rose was the main character, I felt like the spotlight was always on Odalie. With her charm and wit, she was alluring and like a spider- catching anyone and everyone in her web. Rose is delighted when Odalie suggests she moves in to her swanky hotel suite, and the plot only thickens from there.
Rose finds herself obsessed with her new roommate and riveted by her lifestyle, but she soon realizes Odalie has some dark secrets of her own. I was interested in trying to find out the truth about Odalie as well as about her life, but I didn’t feel like I needed to read 300 pages in order to do so. I will admit that the book picks up speed towards the last couple of chapters, and the ending is exciting and suspenseful, however, it left me with more questions than answers. The author did a good job creating an ending that sparks discussion but I felt slightly annoyed that there really weren’t any answers about what happened. Frustrating.
I decided to give this book a 3 out of 5 rating as I was halfway interested in it and it kept my attention enough to finish it. However, because of the slowness of this book and the unanswered ending, I could not go any higher. I enjoyed the writing, though, and will definitely read the next book Rindell comes up with.