Gus Pelagatti – The Wicked Wives: A Novel Based on a True Story

7. The Wicked Wives: A Novel Based on a True Story by Gus Pelagatti (2011)
Length: 296 pages
Genre: True Crime
Started: 24 January 2013
Finished: 25 January 2013
Where did it come from? Many thanks to Gus for sending me a copy of this book to read.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 12 January 2013
Why do I have it? I like true crime and Gus Pelagatti is a new author for me. I also had never heard of the actual 1938 Philadelphia murder scandals that this book is based on.

The Wicked Wives: A Novel Based on a True Story is a story set in Depression-Era Philadelphia and filled with murder, corruption, treachery, love and lust written about in vivid detail. 

Giorgio DiSipio – a local tailor known as the ‘Don Juan of Passyunk Avenue’ – preyed upon disenchanted and unfaithful wives – eventually convincing twelve of them to kill their spouses for the insurance money. The murder conspiracy is very successful, until one lone assistant District Attorney, Tom Rossi, uncovers the plot and brings the perpetrators to justice.

All in all, seventeen wives were arrested and charged with the murders of their husbands. First among them being Lillian Stoner, who murders her husband Reggie and depends on her lover Giorgio to feed her opium habit. There was Eva Bell Fitzpatrick, a risque redhead who loves sex and gambling, and whose gambling debts lead her in to the worst kind of trouble – murder. Rose Grady was known as the ‘Kiss of Death Widow’ – married four times, she was thrice a widow – looking for affection and support for herself and her two young daughters, she finds both in Giorgio DiSipio. Joanna Napoli was the full-figured gift shop owner – the only ‘Wicked Wife’ to be ‘blinded by love’ – and her obsession with Giorgio leads her to do the unthinkable.

Assigned to arrest and prosecute all the conspirators including the wives for the poison murders, assistant District Attorney Tom Rossi incurs the wrath of the corrupt Deputy Mayor Bill Evans after he refuses to protect Bill Evans’ niece Lillan Stoner from murder charges. The Deputy Mayor sets the political machinery in motion to get Tom Rossi disbarred, using the only ammunition he is able to find, Tom’s relationship with nurse Hope Daniels. Part Negro, Hope has successfully lived her life as a white woman, but Bill Evans uses the bigotry of Philadelphia voters to derail Tom Rossi’s campaign to be elected District Attorney.

To be completely honest, while I enjoyed the underlying murder mystery, and appreciated how well-researched the book was, there were so many characters involved that I had trouble keeping them all straight in my mind. The Wicked Wives: A Novel Based on a True Story by Gus Pelagatti was gritty, violent and incredibly realistic. I certainly don’t recommend this book for ‘faint-of-heart’ or squeamish readers. I give The Wicked Wives: A Novel Based on a True Story by Gus Pelagatti an A!

A! – (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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