Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams - #review

In the first book of a breathtaking new trilogy by bestselling author Beatriz Williams, two generations of women are brought together inside a Greenwich Village apartment —a flapper hiding an extraordinary past, and a modern-day Manattanite forced to start her life anew.

When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes her SoHo loft for a studio in Greenwich Village. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up—laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream—even though the space has been empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the basement was home to one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies.

In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of the biggest bootleggers in Appalachia.

But Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, and their alliance rattles Manhattan society to its foundations, exposing secrets that shock even this free-spirited redhead.

As Ella unravels the strange history of her new building—and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly—she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her exuberant predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her existence in the wicked city.



Having been a fan of Beatriz Williams since I read and reviewed A Certain Age in January 2017, I was thrilled to recently find The Wicked City had a virtual book tour in the offing.  And I'm even happier to report that this new novel is as much a jewel as the former.

Big cities are not my preferred milieu, but I would travel with Ella in the present day, or with Gin in the past and revel in the descriptions of the people, sights and sounds of either age.  I even admire Ms. Williams' description of Duke Kelly, Gin's smarmy step-father.  The man himself, of course, is a slimy worm.  But this is also a testament to Williams' building of the characters of her books.

And I had an interesting, if unintended and unexpectedly current side debate going on with myself about Duke.  There was no debate about his character.  Duke is scum.  He is involved in just about every criminal enterprise known to man, and ruled his territory like a duke of old, with the power of life and death over those in his dukedom.

Wbich begged the question:  how much 'good' does someone have to do to erase the bad or evil that they have done.  Many in Hollywood and/or Washington have found out recently that having industry or political position or power is no free ticket to abuse others at will.  Duke had been going in the direction that would have lead to him assaulting Gin, which was what caused her to leave home and wind up in NYC.  The economic climate of the home area had changed tremendously in Gin's absence, due to funds from Duke's criminal enterprises.  Those who would not talk against him out of loyalty could usually be coerced into not talking against him out of fear.

But Gin was never Duke's biggest fan, so she agrees to provide agent Oliver Anson with intelligence on Duke's operation.  And so the games begin.

We should all give a big literary fist-pump for the fact that The Wicked City is the first of a planned trilogy.  What great news with which to approach the new year.  I'm already making space on my bookshelves.



A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.

Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Click the TLC button to go to the tour page, where you will find links to more reviews of this title.  You can also find out how to become a blog host for future book tours while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and HarperCollins (publishers) via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)


  1. I'm so glad you loved this one as much as her previous book!

    Thank you for being on the tour!

  2. I'm looking forward to reading this series!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!