Press

Reviews for FLIGHT OF DREAMS:

The novel beautifully exploits the unique, excruciating kind of suspense in which the poor horrified reader knows from the start exactly what’s going to happen. Well, maybe not exactly….Under Lawhon’s revolving spotlight, we are introduced to a carousel of suspicious characters…so as the zeppelin cruises serenely through the clouds the earthbound reader ricochets from distrust to uncertainty to outright foreboding. At every page a guilty secret bobs up; at every page Lawhon keeps us guessing. Who will bring down the Hindenburg? And how?” — New York Times Book Review

“An Agatha Christie–style page-turner exploring the unsolved mystery of the 1937 Hindenburg explosion. As Lawhon (The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress, 2014) charmingly explains in her Author’s Note at the end of this novel, “If you’re going to call bullshit on historical events, you’d best have a good theory to offer as an alternative.” What she questions and upends in her speculative version of what happened… is the assertion made by survivors that it was “an uneventful flight.” … As the disaster inches closer with every chapter—each begins with a countdown in days, hours, and minutes—Lawhon evokes the airborne luxury of the ship—the meals, the cocktails, the smoking room, and the service—in such detail that you end up feeling a little sad that the stately flight of the Hindenburg marked the end of passenger travel by airship forever. A clever, dramatic presentation of a tragic historical event. Suspenseful and fun.” — Kirkus

For her second outing, Lawhon (The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress) once again reimagines a front-page news event, filling in the entertaining backstory with passion, secrets, and nail-biting suspense, this time taking on the disastrous crash of the Hindenburg in 1937. Using the actual passenger list from the doomed airship, the author has concocted a romance between two key crew members, Max Zabel, one of the ship’s navigators, and Emilie Imhoff, the first German stewardess hired for an airship… The tale is fleshed out with other characters, including a lively acrobatic entertainer named Joseph Späh; a journalist, Gertrud Adelt, whose press credentials were recently revoked by the Nazis for her outspokenness; and the cabin boy, Werner Franz, whose trip on the Hindenburg was more of a passage to adulthood than he ever could have imagined. Lawhon threads many stories together, connecting passengers and crew and bringing behind-the-scenes depth and humanity to a great 20th-century tragedy—even though we all know theHindenburg’s fate. (Feb.)”  — Publisher’s Weekly

“The Hindenburg disaster rattled the world, and Lawhon brilliantly explores the background of the doomed airship, its passengers and the events leading up to the crash. She engages readers with well-developed characters whose alternating viewpoints captivate, as does the novel’s rapid pacing. Lawhon’s evocation of 1930s Germany, through the intertwined stories of the passengers, gives readers a rare look into a historical event. On May 6, 1937, Germany’s pride and joy, the airship Hindenburg, took off for Lakehurst, N.J, with 97 passengers and crew. This diverse group of people included the only female crew member, the navigator smitten with her, a young cabin boy, a German journalist whose infant son is held hostage by the Gestapo, an American, a German general and several businessmen. They spend three days on the elite flying hotel, sharing drinks in the lounge and dinner in the elegant dining room, not knowing their lives will change in a split second. In the aftermath of the crash, the survivors face their fears and realizations of what life means.” Romantic Times

Any reader fascinated by the tragic disaster of the German passenger airship the Hindenburg will want to read Ariel Lawhon’s imaginative and thrilling new novel, Flight of Dreams…Lawhon reimagines the last voyage of the Hindenburg, populating the ship with the real passengers, including the only female crew member, Emilie Imhoff. Lawhon describes the ship’s interior, passenger quarters, and staff areas, as well as the lavish meals and furnishings. But the thrilling plot is entirely Lawhon’s…If the quality of this work is predictive of Lawhon’s future novels, lovers of historical fiction have something to look forward to.” — Historical Novel Society

Reviews for THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS:

Good crime stories don’t stay buried, and Ariel Lawhon’s new novel, THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS digs up the case of the so-called Missingest Man in New York and feasts on its bones…..This case was an a la carte menu of the era’s social hot buttons: chorus girls, speakeasies, bootleggers, Tammany Hall corruption, nattily clad gangsters and irritating rich people…..Lawhon has a gift for lean banter and descriptive shorthand….But don’t let Lawhon’s straightforward style and narrative restraint fool you. This book is more meticulously choreographed than a chorus line. It all pays off. Clues accumulate. Each scene proves important. Everyone lies. Once the rabbit is out of the hat everything takes on a different texture, reorganizes and makes sense. A second reading, like a second cocktail, is almost better than the first. — The New York Times Book Review

“Lawhon…demonstrates an immense talent for storytelling that’s rife with witty banter, adept plotting, and skillful pacing. The novel reads like a cross between Sue Monk Kidd and Beth Hoffman, although it’s set in the North and swaps those authors’ penchant for coming-of-age tales for a story about coming clean at last. Here, Lawhon has created a fully-realized world where longstanding loyalties change on a dime, and the result of slipping up—even once—can be deadly.” – Chapter 16.org

“This story is at once an intricate tale of disparate but coexisting definitions of love and loyalty as well as a tale of what it meant to be a person of power in New York City in the early 20th century. Historical fiction and true crime readers will thoroughly enjoy this book.”Library Journal

“As rumors swirl about political corruption, an N.Y.C. judge disappears in 1930 without a trace. Caught in the scandal are his wife and showgirl mistress–plus his dutiful maid, whose detective husband is investigating the case. Inspired by a real-life unsolved mystery, this mesmerizing novel features characters that make a lasting impression.” — People Magazine

In this tale of Jazz Age New York, Lawhon walks one of fiction’s trickiest tightropes, creating a novel that is both genuinely moving and full of pulpy fun. It’s 1930, and a corrupt judge has gone missing. Newly promoted police officer Jude Simon is assigned the case and hunts among the speakeasies, Broadway theaters, and wealthy apartments of New York, only to be blocked at every turn. He’s stymied in particular by the three women in the judge’s life: his jaded wife; his sly mistress; and worst of all, his frightened maid, who happens to be Simon’s wife. The women’s stories throw a harsh light on New York in the 1930s, when gangsters ruled the city and women were pawns in their games. The imagined events of the novel become even more poignant when the reader discovers that the story is based on the real-life disappearance of Joseph Crater and that most of the characters were real people, like the notorious madam Vivian Gordon and the vile gangster Owney Madden. It’s a great story, told with verve and feeling. — Booklist 

“In extended flashbacks, the author paints a sordid portrait of mobsters and mayhem, corruption and carnage, greed and graft as she slyly builds the suspense to a stunning revelation. And she populates the novel with numerous other real-life figures, including a cameo appearance by New York Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt. A story of a bygone New York, “The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress” is also a tale of three women, strong in different ways, who lived at a time when gender roles often led to stereotyping and disrespect. The world might never know the full facts about Crater’s fate, but readers with a taste for noir will enjoy this intelligent take on notoriety.” — The Times Dispatch

[Lawhon’s] telling of the Crater story is a gripping, fast-paced noir novel… It captures a New York City period full of high-kicking showgirls, mob-linked speakeasies and Tammany Hall political scandal… Lawhon brings fresh intrigue to this tale, making the final outcome a guessing game for the reader as events unfold…Stella, Maria and Ritzi are central to Lawhon’s tale and give it a depth of emotion that is often missing from crime thrillers… the story moves forward with momentum, thanks to well-crafted scenes and fluid dialogue. Also, despite the many decades since Judge Crater went missing, the mystery of his disappearance is still a powerful magnet for its fictional retelling. — The Associated Press

“The Prohibition Era holds many secrets, and one of them is the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater. Lawhon takes the case of the “missingest man in New York” and turns it into an intriguing mystery involving three women who knew him well. Lawhon’s storytelling skills bring the characters to life and will have readers sympathizing with them even when they cheat and steal. She weaves reality and fantasy together so well — if you’re looking for a page-turner filled with glitz and glamour as well as murder, greed and deceit, this one’s for you.” — Romantic Times

Set among seedy speakeasies and backstage dressing rooms during Prohibition, the twists and turns in the tale of lust, greed, and deceit keep you guessing until the final pages….The Nancy Drew in you can’t wait to solve the artfully hidden clues in this historical mystery. — Daily Candy

“It’s hard to know who to trust in this novel but easier to know who to cheer for, and you will be rooting for various characters along the way. I can assure you, though, they won’t be the newspaper reporters or the cops. Corruption in high places is no surprise to any of us, but add in the 1930s’ ambience of gin mills, gangsters, floozies, Broadway showgirls, and the mysterious disappearance of Judge Crater and you have a deliciously readable and entertaining novel.” — Everyday E-book

 A romp through New York in the late 20’s…Populated by gangsters and crooked politicians, society ladies and dancers, this story is nothing like your day-to-day life and yet… you will find the three women mentioned in the title (a wife, a maid and a mistress) strangely recognizable…. Ariel Lawhon has cleverly re-imagined what might have happened if three women in his life really did know. — Charlotte Observer 

“Turns a historical mystery into nail-biting entertainment.” — Nashville Scene

A romp through 1930s New York populated by gangsters and crooked politicians, society ladies and dancers. — Deep South Magazine

 

Praise from Booksellers:

“Based on the true life, never-solved mystery of the disappearance of Justice Joseph Crater, this entertaining novel will keep you hooked until the very last page! As told through the voices of three women (Joseph’s wife, Stella; his showgirl/mistress Ritzi; and Maria, the maid), Ariel Lawhon vividly describes the smoky, crime-ridden Prohibition era of NYC. This one’s a real page-turner.” — RJ Julia Booksellers * staff pick

This is a really fun mystery! — Eagle Harbor Book Co. * staff pick

“This book is based on the true story of the disappearance of a New York City judge in the 1930’s from the point of view of his wife, his maid and his mistress. The entertaining cast of characters, including gangsters, showgirls and corrupt cops brings the Boardwalk Empire era of NYC to life. Nashville’s own, Ariel Lawhon has written a true page turner.” – Parnassus Books, Karen Hayes, * staff pick