Let's Read it: Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti

Teaser: An evil mastermind plays the role of a ladies man and uses his harem of black widows to turn murder into money in the affluent hills of Philadelphia in the late 1930s. Driven by love, lust and greed, more than a dozen wives conspire with their playboy lover to murder their husbands and collect hefty insurance payouts. The women are ruthless, unemphatic and unapologetic in their conquests for money and sex and they all share a common thread. Their love and admiration for a man named Giorgio Disipio. Cold, calculating and ultimately cowardly Giorgio secretly despises the women who worship him and has no regrets for facilitating the deaths of more than a dozen men. When the police begin closing in on him, he's more than content to give up his co-conspirators, many of which are women who truly loved him, to save his own skin. Unfortunately for him the scorned women he manipulated are more than willing to do the same. Long time lover and deadly black widow, Eva, can't accept her demise. She's murdered two husband with the help of Giorgio, but like many of the other women, she believes herself to be Giorgio's one true love and secretly resents him for never genuinely returning her affection. She won't sit by while he or any of the others get away with their crimes. When she starts talking the deadly pyramid plot and the lives of all those involved begins to crumble to the ground. District attorney Tom Rossi has slam dunk if he can wade through this intricate web of deceit, affairs and murders. But he'll find out just how close his personal life is intertwined with this band of devious killers.

Did I like it: I'm an absolute sucker for most types of crime novels and true stories are even more enthralling. Accordingly, I very much in enjoyed this book. I generally find it a good sign when you can't stop reading until the end, and this definitely gave me the "just one more page" feeling I like when reading. The characters are very well developed, and I say this having had a general dislike for most of them. They are awful people and this really shines through, particularly their lack of empathy and their desperation when their scam unravels. The female characters are exceptionally well written. They manage to be incredibly strong forces but at the same time very weak.  Three of the main women, Eva, Joanna and Lillian have a deep love for Giorgio. A man that treats them like nothing more than slabs of meat, will not and cannot commit to any of them and constantly betrays their trust.

 But they are tireless in their efforts to secure him as their own, and just as much so to live their lives the way the want even in they have to lie and kill to do it. The women are wild, some murdering multiple husbands with no regard for the consequences. They are certainly "evil" but in my opinion their willingness to become killers steams from their flaws as human beings. They are either in loveless or unfulfilling marriages for which murder seems like the only way out with the bonus of a hefty sum of cash each time. Giorgio's character preys on this weakness, on their need for a passionate man who loves them. They are pawns, but he is the true master and truly befitting of the word evil. He feels no remorse for his lovers or the people he's killed, and even lies to the very last moment when faced with the responsibility for his deeds. But these despicable characters are what enjoyed most about this novel.

The dialogue is excellent and fitting for the times. Their are some instances of racial slurs but they fit into the world of the story, being that it takes place in the 1930s.  I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys, crime, suspense novels or "based on a true story" type novels. It's an entertaining, medium sized read. However due to adult language and sexual situations I would not suggest this for younger readers. 

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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