Book Review: THE OTHER TYPIST by Suzanne Rindell

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Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Released: May 7 2013
Source: Borrowed from the library

New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.

Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.

But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist’s spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls’ friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose’s fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.

But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?

———

THE OTHER TYPIST was a most curious book. I finished it a week ago, and I’m still trying to process everything. The story is told by Rose, a typist in a New York City police precinct in 1924. On the surface, there’s nothing remarkable about Rose. She lives in a boarding house and works hard at her job. Then she starts telling us about a new typist named Odalie that starts work at her precinct. Where Rose is average, Odalie is extraordinary.  Sophisticated, worldly, beautiful, exciting. Rose feels like the chosen one when Odalie befriends her.

As the story progressed, I got the sense that something was “off” about Rose. Her friendship with Odalie morphs into an obsession. We learn unsettling things about both Rose’s and Odalie’s past. There was more to Odalie than what she seemed, but was Rose telling the truth about what really happened between them? It was hard to tell. Underneath the laughs, booze, and parties, there was an ominous tone giving me the feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

The ending of this book was… Surprising? Confusing? Both? Most of the ending I thought was good. I liked the twist, and finally finding out what was really going on. Oh, very devious… However, the last sentence baffled me! I was like, “Wait. What???” I felt like either I missed something, or the characters were simply screwing with us poor readers.

I suspect this review doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s kind of the feeling I took away from this book! Maybe that was the point. Aside from that, I thought the writing was good. I loved taking a step back into the 1920s, and the author did a fine job bringing that decade to life. I’d recommend THE OTHER TYPIST to fans of this time period, as long as you don’t mind a story with an open-ended conclusion.

Rating: 3½ Stars

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