New York Times bestselling author Jane Stanton Hitchcock's Social Crimes is a riveting thriller of manners, obsession, and revenge that scales the heights and plumbs the depths of the New York social scene.
When Jo Slater, one of New York’s premier socialites and a patron of the arts, befriends a French countess, she ignores warnings from friends about the mysterious newcomer. Soon, the young woman knocks Jo off her Park Avenue throne. But using her knowledge of the greatest historical swindle of all time—a true story involving Marie Antoinette—Jo sets out to reclaim her fortune and her place in society.
For the plan to work, however, she must resort to the most desperate of measures: murder. Social Crimes is a savvy social satire bursting with money, betrayal, and passion that will thrill readers of sophisticated mysteries.
How does Hitchcock's amusing saga differ from the scads of books involving money, murder and high society? There's the economy and wit of her prose ("murder was never my goal in life," heroine Jo Slater begins), and then there's Jo's awareness of how silly the upper crust is ("if you're nice and you lose all your money, you're out. But if you're a sh-t with a private plane, you're in"). Playing on the tried and true theme of the older wife being dumped for the young miss, Hitchcock (Trick of the Eye) offers a funny, lightweight tale. Jo is living the life: she's married to a billionaire, owns a sumptuous apartment in Manhattan, a rambling home in the Hamptons and a magnificent collection of 18th-century art. Things are just perfect until pretty young thing Monique de Passy enters her world (seemingly as a friend), Jo's husband dies, and Jo learns that he's left his estate to none other than the charming French countess. What follows and constitutes the bulk of the book is Jo's attempt to frame Monique as a seductress and murderer. Her approach is, for the most part, honorable. Jo is smart and has plenty of connections, and even though her financial situation becomes dire after her husband's death (she takes cabs instead of limousines and wears old couture dresses to parties), she holds her head high and eventually triumphs. Hitchcock's prose is airy and her plot moves quickly, making this a quintessential beach book.