The Other Typist: A sophisticated Prohibition-era mystery

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell.

Close your eyes and imagine’s it’s Prohibition-era New York City. George Gershswin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” is playing at Carnegie Hall. J. Edgar Hoover is leading the FBI and the Giant’s just won their 4th pennant. It’s in the Roaring 20s that we meet Rose Baker, a young typist employed at a police precinct on the Lower East Side. Her job, among the usual secretarial duties, is to record confessions, and take notes in court.

Our venerable narrator Rose is a total prude, and slavish to rules, decorum and order, having been raised by nuns. A poor orphan, she is by all accounts alone in the world except for her annoying and frivolous roommate Helen, with whom she shares a room at the boarding house.

Rose’s world is typical and boring, her only excitement an apparent crush on her boss. That is, until she meets new coworker Odalie, a stylish, charismatic woman of means whose cigarettes and bobbed locks signify an avant-garde personality. (A bob. Can you even imagine?!)

Without giving too much away, The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell takes us through Rose and Odalie’s fast journey from strangers to BFFs, and Rose’s transformation from gauche and naive loner to daring and obsessive dupe.

It’s evident early on in the story that something outrageous happens, as Rose drops in comments like “Well, my doctor says…” as she tracks back and forth in explaining her relationship to Odalie. But the story unfolds slowly with layer on layer of delicious detail about friendship, lies and speakeasies in a long ago era. It’s not until the middle of the book that you realize Rose is under medical supervision which only adds to the suspense.

What I loved about the book: I love a book with a twist or seven. The Other Typist kept me guessing all the way until the end and I appreciated how much Rindell layered the story so it wasn’t predictable. I listened the audiobook version in the car and I found myself running extra errands so I could listen longer.

Bottom line: Intriguing period piece that explores friendship, obsession, mystery and murder from the vantage point of an unreliable but interesting narrator. A fun and fast read.

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The Chosen: A story of friendship and faiths
The Witch’s Daughter: Because who doesn’t love a time traveling witch?
How not to go broke with an e-reader, aka why I heart the public library
If I should die tomorrow
Applying “The Power of Habit”

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