Review: The Other Typist

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
◆ Read August 2014
◆ English Edition
◆ 
❝ 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?
Well, this book is just classy as hell, with its cigarette holders, expensive frocks, speakeasies and lunch outings. Everything about it breathed the 20's to me and it's no secret that I'm a sucker for historical fiction, especially for a time period like this. Though certainly not without flaws, I thought The Other Typist was a really enjoyable and exciting read.

One of the book's best qualities was the way Rindell portrayed the 1920's, how she conveyed the spirit of the time. In a way, I could see that she was inspired by Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, because both books have a way of making you feel as though you've traveled back in time. I really liked the author's choice of time period and the excerpts that described it were my favorites. Her descriptions of the flowing alcohol, the latest hair fashion, the rich upper class society, the dynamics between male and female were spot on and many a moment while reading I reminisced about living in the book setting. The entire book was simply put beautifully written.


Another great thing was the prominent focus on characterization in the story. Though not necessarily finding her like able, I as a reader learned an awful lot about Rose's past and present and her character traits, such as the fact that she was orphaned, very naive and had a definite obsessive streak. Through her narration, I also got to learn a lot about Odalie though and I appreciated the effort the author put into fleshing out the characters. 


Not only that, the plot about Rose becoming obsessed with Odalie and trying to find out the truth was really interesting. The mystery of Odalie's real identity made the story more exciting because I got to think along. Unfortunately, part of the mystery was undermined by the predictability of The Other Typist. There are so many allusions to turning points, future events and naivety on Rose's part made it rather easy to figure out Odalie's illegal activities and her past. At first I liked that the narrator was recounting the events as they had happened, but the foreshadowings started appearing so often that I had to literally stop myself from rolling my eyes. 


All the foreshadowing and hints build up to the big climax and though I liked the dramatics of it all, though I thought that it was deliciously entertaining that Rose got framed, the ending felt incomplete and unbelievable. It was too abstract, too vague for the reader to get any clarity out of it. 


I enjoyed it immensely, I really did, but the flaws I just discussed were not ones I could overlook which is why I'm giving it three stars.


3 stars because:
✓Accurate conveyance of the spirit of the 1920's.
✓Elaborate characterization  
✗Too much foreshadowing
✗Ending too vague

 

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