The Wicked City: A Novel

The Wicked City: A Novel

by Beatriz Williams


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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.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594692188
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/17/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 44,786
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

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.

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Wicked City 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved every book I have read by Beatriz Williams. This book is incredibly good just like her others. If she is a new author to you, then you are in for a treat catching up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book did not disappoint. The story draws you in and never lets go. Love the past and present weaving she does so well.
Littlebookpage More than 1 year ago
Five stars for Beatriz Williams' The Wicked City! This book has it all! Williams is a master of endearing and charming characters both male and female; weaving a tale through the past and present full of passion and excitement. The double story line will keep the pages turning long into the night. I absolutely adored Ginger and Oliver and fell in love with Ella as she struggles to find her new normal amid the ghosts of her past. This book was fun and fast-paced, luring me into the era of prohibition while intertwining a modern day career woman - soon to be divorced- starting her new life! Highly recommend! This is a stand alone but one of many in a prohibition series by Beatriz Williams. Book clubs will have so much to discuss with this amazing book!
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Two storylines going at once and the reader knows from the beginning that these stories will connect. Ella must move out of her loft with her husband and into a small apartment in NYC, she is dealing with a big change in life. In a story set in 1924, Gin Kelly has left Maryland for NYC and is caught in the underground world during prohibition and her past in Maryland doesn't seem so far away. I love Beatriz Williams and am absolutely a fan, but this one wasn't my favorite. Mainly I didn't completely love it because I wanted more from the current storyline. I would say 80% of the book was from the 1924 storyline and although I loved that storyline, I wanted both more of the current one and I wanted it to weave and intersect a little more than it did. I have a few of Beatriz Williams backlist and although this book didn't quite do it for me, I am still excited to get caught up on her books and read them all.
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
The Wicked City is the first book in a new series by Beatriz Williams. There is a dual timeline, 1942 and 1998. The connection in the story is the building where Geneva Kelly visits a speakeasy and where Ella lives in an apartment. Of course, there are other connections but this is where it all starts. The 1942 story was told from Geneva’s point of view. It was a time of prohibition, jazz, and speakeasies. The details and descriptions were wonderful, perfect to a reader who is not familiar with New York City during this time. I was able to picture the time and the people of the Roaring 40’s. The 1998 story was told by Ella. She is recently separated from her cheating husband and moves into a building that feels like home. Her story was a current time story. The ideas, the jobs, and the relationships were more of what I was use to. Ella is a strong character that never failed to stand up for herself and hold strong in those beliefs. I found The Wicked City to be a fast paced reader that I could not put down. There are so many twists and turns that I was constantly intrigued on what would happen next. I am anxious for more of this series. The Wicked City was left with questions unanswered. There is more, a lot more, to Ella and Geneva’s story.
booklover10CM More than 1 year ago
IInteresting, but not one of her best. The whole book is very descriptive, more so than her other books I have read. The descriptive language is beautifully done, but there is so much that in my opinion it overwhelms the characters and interferes with the story. A number of teasers were introduced in the book that were left dangling; I assume left to the readers’ imagination (or a sequel). Williams’ tried to wrap everything up in a neat little package at the end, but I found it disappointing, even if there is a sequel. If there are already 364 pages, why rush the ending?
Myndia More than 1 year ago
Love doesn’t care about convenience, propriety or good timing. If you want it, sometimes you must throw caution to the wind, and jump in feet first, consequences be damned. In New York City, where life moves fast, this is especially true. Gin and Ella are women from two different eras – the 20’s and the 90’s – who are connected by a building wrought with history (and perhaps even more). Gin moved to the city from rural Maryland to escape her stepfather, and Ella moved into Gin’s old building to escape a marriage that wasn’t what it seemed. Gin spends her nights at the speakeasy next door, drinking and dancing the night away in the days of Prohibition. 70+ years later, Ella swears she hears jazz music through the laundry room wall, but can find no way to get inside. Both women find love unexpectedly in the same place, decades apart. Beatriz Williams never disappoints. Stories of complicated (if not impossible) love with a side of historical fiction, served up in her lovely writing style? Just my cup of tea. This recent endeavor, the third of her books that I’ve read so far, takes 2nd place, just after Along the Infinite Sea. It was a bit mysterious, very character-driven (as always), and I especially liked Gin. She had gumption and smarts and a strong will to make the best of things. Even in the worst of situations, she tried to do the right thing, at great cost to herself. But she was no doormat. The relationships that develop are not a surprise, but I enjoyed watching them play out. The ending left a little too much to the imagination for me, given this isn’t a series so far as I know. Perhaps the door was being left open for a related story where those questions will be answered. I suppose it’s also possible there were some connections I didn’t make along the way. One thing that took some getting used to was the shift in style. It was reminiscent of a detective novel/or movie from the 20’s. Completely appropriate given the story, but I wasn’t expecting it, and I don’t have a lot of experience with detective novels, especially from that period. After awhile, I didn’t notice it anymore. But it’s something to be aware of. As I said, Beatriz Williams did not disappoint. She will continue to be at the top of my reading list, and I look forward to whatever she comes up with next. Note: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss. I pride myself on writing fair and honest reviews.
Tangen More than 1 year ago
I have never read any of this author's books before, but I certainly will now. The premise is intriguing, the plot mobile, the characters engaging, the dialog great fun. The story reels you in while you just keep turning the pages. No spoilers, the publisher's blurb gives hints and clues but can't begin to prepare you for all the laughs and creativity. An excellent read, and I highly recommend it! I did enter and win a giveaway in which the book was provided by the publisher in expectation of a review.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
The first thing you notice about Beatriz Williams' new novel, The Wicked City, is its striking cover. A woman wearing a vibrant red dress dress under a red umbrella, walking in what looks like 1920's Times Square in New York (the cars are the key clue to the time frame). Immediately a reader would pick this book up off a shelf to check it out. Reading the back cover, you discover that a character from Williams' last novel A Certain Age, society maven Theresa Marshall's son Billy, has a role in this novel. One of Williams' strengths in her novels is the connection between characters in her previous books. The Schulyer family has been prominent in several of her most recent books- One Hundred Summers, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, Along The Infinite Sea, and The Forgotten Room- and they have a role here as well. The story begins in 1998 with Ella Hawthorne moving into an apartment at 11 Christopher Street in Greenwich Village in New York City. She has just left her husband after finding him cheating on her. Her lifestyle takes a dramatic turn, from living in a gorgeous condo to moving into a tiny apartment in a small, older building. She meets an intriguing (and handsome) man, Hector, in the laundry room basement, who gives her the lowdown on the building and its tenants. She hears music coming from the the other side of the wall, from the building next door. Hector tells her that it used to be a speakeasy, back in the days of Prohibition. And then the story takes a turn to the 1920's where we meet Gin Kelly, a real-life flapper, who spends her time at the speakeasy drinking illegal alcohol after working at her job as a typist at Sterling & Bates. Gin is a real dame, the kind of woman Barbara Stanwyck would have played in a the movies. Gin is dating young rich college boy Billy Marshall, who has fallen hard for her and wants to marry her. She is also being pursued by Anson, a federal Prohibition agent who is leaning on Gin to help him shut down the flow of illegal moonshine, coming from the man Gin ran away from- her stepfather, who has become a powerful alcohol distributor in Maryland. Gin's story intrigued me more than Ella's did, perhaps because there was more physical action and more of a sense of danger. There is a powerful scene near the end of the story that had me at the edge of my seat, with Gin and Billy and Anson and Gin's stepfather; it was incredibly harrowing. Beatriz Williams' writes characters you care about, and her ear for the 1920's dialogue felt very much like watching an old movie on TCM and even put me in mind of HBO's Boardwalk Empire, the Prohibition-set TV series. She is also very clever at weaving her characters' stories and histories together, and their connection to the Schuyler family gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling seeing some of my old friends again. If you are a fan of Williams' previous novels, The Wicked City is a must-read, and if you haven't yet read any of her books, this is a good one to start with; I guarantee you will be running to grab her previous novels to catch up with what you have missed.