Jane Stanton Hitchcock






Allen & Unwin reissue, January 2006
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

Jo Slater moves in the rarefied air of New York high society. She is one of the grandest of the grande dames. But the good life ends when her husband, Lucius, dies suddenly under strange circumstances. The strange circumstances are that when Jo catches him poolside with an attractive young countess, Monique, Lucius drops dead with a heart attack. Jo had befriended Monique and taken her under her wing to guide her through the strange world of New York society. When the will is read out, Jo finds all the money has been divided between Luciusís son and Monique. Not only has Monique stolen Joís husband and fortune, but her place in society as well. This latter horror is unforgivable in Joís eyes. She is out for revenge and her place back in the fickle high society. Jo soon discovers there was a plot to relieve her husband of his fortune. Jo is convinced that Monique knew that Lucius had a heart condition and arranged for them to get caught out after tricking Lucius into changing his will. Proving it is difficult, so Jo decides to take the law into her own hands and hatches up a plot for revenge.

SOCIAL CRIMES is a fast, caustic and witty look at the New York upper crust. I was hooked from the very first sentence: "Murder was never my goal in life." Jo Slater is smart and knows how to use her connections even when she is poverty stricken. She is such a nice, bubbly person that even when sheís thinking her dark and revengeful thoughts you accept it and even laugh at her exploits. She is one of those rare characters who make you feel as though she is real, that you could give her a call and pop over to Paris with her for a weekend of shopping. The plot kept me enthralled right through to the shocking, yet strangely satisfying, end. New York society is portrayed in all its artificial backstabbing best, and if only half of what Jane Stanton Hitchcock writes is true, Iím happy to remain poor. SOCIAL CRIMES has a great plot, fast pace, sex, lies, secrets, and murder. Perfect for a holiday read, or when you are looking for something light and fluffy. Be warned, there is a dark and serious side to the book. It explores, admittedly in a humorous way, how even the nicest person can act wickedly if pushed into a corner.

April 2006 Review, original version published on Murder and Mayhem


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