Commentary
5:00 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Book Review: The Other Typist

Set in New York City in the 1920s, The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell is told from the viewpoint of Rose Baker, an unremarkable woman raised in an orphanage by nuns.

Rose lives a quiet life as a typist in one of Manhattan's police precincts, recording interviews and confessions for the record, which will eventually be submitted to the courts as truth. Rose holds herself in high regard. To please her sergeant, whom she adores, she is a stickler for efficiency, decorum and manners.

Rose's rule-following, no-nonsense life is disrupted when another typist named Odalie is hired. Rose quickly becomes obsessed with the beautiful new girl and finds herself living in a well funded, but illegal, world.

Working for the law by day, and against it, in speakeasies, by night, Rose's once black-and-white view of the world becomes blurred, and eventually blinded, by her devotion to Odalie. When corruption creeps into the precincts through altered testimonies and unfounded prison releases, Rose continues to fall into a downward spiral.

Rose hints at her own demise continually throughout the book, but she’s such an unreliable narrator, it makes you think that maybe she's redeemable. In fact, her demeanor is so calm throughout her retelling, it makes one think the truth will set her free, good will conquer evil and all will be well. But on which side of the truth does Rose reside? On which side of good and evil will she surface?

A story of glamour, prohibition, obsession and corruption, with a fantastic Hitchcockian twist, The Other Typist is a great way to kick off a summer of reading.