Marie Reviews "The Wicked Wives" By Gus Pelagatti

The Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti

Amazon Book Description:
June 20, 2011

When I was an eight year old boy I overheard adults in my South Philadelphia neighborhood discussing 17 disenchanted and unfaithful neighborhood wives who murdered their husbands for insurance money, love and lust. This was a fascinating topic for an eight year old boy eavesdropping on adult conversation. The adults were discussing the true story of Philadelphia’s infamous 1938 murder scandals. My fascination led to obsession. I knew that I had to write about these wicked wives someday. After I became a trial lawyer in 1964, I researched the poison murder cases in the law library and obtained newspaper accounts of the scandals dating back to October, 1938. Thereafter I conducted interviews with judges, lawyers, police, witnesses, sheriff deputies and neighbors who knew the defendants. One of the chief conspirators was a tailor who seduced, then persuaded at least twelve wives to poison their husbands for insurance. The setting for his seductions was the couch in the rear of his tailor shop, located two blocks from our family home. A fascinating conspiracy unfolded in these murder cases. The poison gang’s colorful and hilarious characters helped to deep-six a minimum of 20 husbands. The supporting cast includes Giorgio, “The Don Juan of Passyunk Avenue. ” Aside from scheming Lillian, “the society wife”, the wives include Rose, the “Kiss of Death Widow, ” Eva “the nymphomaniac” and the “hopelessly in love, ” Joanna. After many comical episodes, intriguing detective work and two suspense filled high profile trials, 12 wives plead or are found guilty of murdering their husbands. Two male conspirators were executed in the electric chair. "The Wicked Wives" gleefully explores the sins of lust and greed, and the disappointments that love often brings. The characters, although they commit murder and adultery, are extremely likable, and often amusing. Writing “The Wicked Wives” was a true labor of love.


The Wicked Wives is an interesting journey through a seedy crime story based on a true story of insurance fraud and murder in Southern Philadelphia in the 1930's. Assistant District Attorney and true blue good guy, Tom Rossi, investigates a suspected murder of Reggie Stoner by his wife Lillian. This brings him into the cross hairs of Mayor Bill Evans, Lillian's rich uncle, whom she has been involved in a scandalous affair with, trading sex for money and protection against prosecution. Evans battles it out with Tom using any defamatory information he can dig up, and threats against his future in the D.A.'s office to dissuade Tom from continuing with the investigation. He even goes as far as getting Tom's girlfriend fired from her job because she is of colored descent.
Tom refuses to bend to the will of the crooked members of the political system and forges ahead. The line of suspected wives keeps getting longer, and number of deaths suspected for fraudulent insurance claims steadily increases. This leads Tom to wonder how large a conspiracy he is dealing with, and who is the Lady in Black and her giant that he believes are the leaders of the whole sordid operation.

I did enjoy this book. The fact that it was based on a true story fascinated me. I couldn't believe how many men and women were engaging in sexual affairs with each other, and that most were involved in murder plots. I found it very disturbing how easy it was to insure someone, claim you were their relative to benefit from the insurance policy, and actually get away with it.
I found some of the characters quite funny, like Bertha, the neighbor who testifies against Lillian about the games of "squirrel" played in the car in front of her house. It was a little hard to believe how many women fell in love with Giorgio, even when they knew he was with so many other women, and had caught him red handed doing the deed, not to mention he was not the brightest crayon in the box. I know it was based on a true story, but either those women were really stupid, or Giorgio's charm may have been embellished.

The ending was a real twist, that I don't think you'll see coming.
I enjoyed this book more as a reference to that era, and learning about something that actually happened. Parts of it did read like a gritty crime novel, but others were jam packed with information about the gangsters, mob leaders, and how they arrived in America and the succession of people who came in and out of power.

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Marie Reviews The Travel Auction by Mark Green

The Travel Auction by Mark Green

It should have been their trip of a lifetime. But with just days to go, Jonathan Cork finds himself dumped by his girlfriend, Kate Thornly. Even worse, a life-threatening allergy means he can’t travel alone. Unable to change the name on the spare ticket and fast running out of time, Jonathan resorts to desperate measures. He advertises on eBay for a travel companion with the same name as his ex. The problem is, it’s a complete lottery who he’ll end up with.

Kate Thornly (the second) is aware of the unusual eBay auction, but she can’t be persuaded to bid. Enter Maria, her best friend, who secretly applies on her behalf! With her nursing credentials and erotic photo, Kate seems the perfect travel companion. But there’s just one small detail Maria’s conveniently left off Kate’s bid...

What follows is a funny, page-turning, rollercoaster ride around South America.


This book is catchy, right from the get go. When dumped by his girlfriend, Kate Thornly, whom he catches in bed with the plumber, Jonathan Cork finds himself in quite a pickle. They had booked a dream vacation, which Kate was supposed to accompany him on and pay him back half the expense. Now she will do neither. So, he needs a new travel companion, someone who is also named Kate Thornly because the tickets could not be changed or used by anyone by any name but Kate Thornly. Jonathan has a nut allergy and needs someone who can administer his injection if he ingests anything he shouldn't. He comes up with a brilliant plan to advertise for a travel partner on ebay, trip of a lifetime, all expenses paid, and lists his requirements.
Kate Thornly the second, a former nurse, is mixed up in the plot by a well meaning and mischievous best friend who answers the ad behind her back. When she finds out what Maria has done, she decides to go with it. Jonathan and Kate meet for the first time and he realizes she is blind. He isn't sure what to do and struggles with his decision a little because he can't imagine a disabled person will be helpful to him on this kind of trip.
He takes a chance on her and the roller coaster ride of laughs and unpredictable situations begins. They travel closely, even sharing the same bed most of the time, and grow to like each other more than either probably thought was possible. There are some bumps in the road that they have to sort out, each revealing parts of their past that weigh them down. In the mean time they enjoy a fantastic trip, and even become fugitives trying to run from the press and celebrity status the ebay auction seemed to bring them.
I completely enjoyed this book. It was interesting and relevant to see the story unfold from both the perspectives of Jonathan and Kate. It was romantic, inspiring, endearing, and real. The places the couple traveled to were described so vividly and beautifully it was almost like being there.
I highly recommend reading it.
I was given an copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


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Marie Reviews First To Find by Morgan C. Talbot

First To Find by Morgan C. Talbot


Death is the hardest puzzle to solve.

Margarita Williams escaped death at a young age, but its shadow has followed her all her life. Now, amidst the chaos of a new Australian roommate and mysterious, menacing neighbors, Death has set the puzzlemaker a puzzle of her own. Someone is killing her fellow geocachers, one by one.

Supersmeller Bindi Ryan left Australia to marry a man who abandoned her the minute her plane landed in Oregon. When thieves steal a local sculpture and a teenage friend is blamed, Bindi and her nose must prove him innocent and find the real culprits. But are she and Margarita working on two mysteries, or one?

If they can’t solve the final puzzle, the killer will strike one final, deadly blow.


I enjoyed this story. I was not familiar at all with the practice of geocaching before reading this book. After reading it, I think it could be a very fun and interesting hobby. That being said, someone who is already familiar with, interested in, or participates in geocaching may enjoy it even more than I did.
I loved all the puzzles in play in the story, and how Margarita used her skills and Bindi used her uncanny sense of smell to solve them. Not that her exceptional abilities with her nose didn't cause her troubles and also set the scene for some comedic moments.
I especially liked the fact that Margarita could defend herself, strong in mind and body. It was an interesting journey watching her overcome her fear that death would take anyone she cares about and learn to take a chance on love again, all while she tried to solve multiple murders before the local law officers could.
I would recommend this book.
I was given an ARC of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


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Marie Reviews Playing The Royal Game by Carol Marinelli

Playing The Royal Game by Carol Marinelli

It seemed like every girl's dream: fall in love with a prince and be whisked off for your very own glamorous happy-ever-after—a royal fairy tale for Allegra Jackson and Prince Alessandro Santina.

Allegra's headline-grabbing family hardly prepared her for a life of public duty, and sinfully delicious Prince Alessandro has always seemed virtually allergic to the idea of settling down in Santa Maria.

Out of all the flamboyant, beautiful women his name's been linked with, the heir to the throne picked ordinary Allegra with the family from hell….

Is everything really as it seems regarding the tabloid's engagement of the year?


Allegra Jackson refuses advances from her boss and she is terminated. She desperately searches for another job, and this leads to a chance meeting with Prince Alessandro Santina. She absentmindedly wanders into a private club to sit and gather her thoughts and is later confronted by a waitress for not signing in. Prince Alessandro, or Alex, as he calls himself, steps in to save her from embarrassment. He is very somber himself because he is being forced to return to Santina to get married and fulfill his royal duties. After some honest conversation about each of their predicaments, Alex wants Allegra to agree to pretend to be his fiance in order to have an excuse to break off his arranged marriage, allowing him a little more time to accomplish his personal goals in London. Then after a short period of time, they could break the engagement. He would pay her handsomely to do so, which would alleviate the burdens she faced being unemployed. It seems like a good first. By the next morning Allegra is experiencing regrets but the Prince makes it perfectly clear that it is already too late to change her mind when they are all over the media. Her regrets only get stronger as one thing after another goes totally opposite from what the Prince had planned, and Allegra's tabloid headline grabbing family get mixed in the deal. The struggle to merge their worlds, overcome standards and expectations to be their own person, and of course falling in love along the way, makes a great story.

Playing The Royal Game is a delightful distraction from every day reality. This modern day fairy tale is just whimsical enough to draw you in, but not too far over the top. I enjoyed the read. I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


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Marie Reviews In The War Zone by John Henry brebbia

In the War Zone by John Henry Brebbia

In The War Zone is an uncommon love story about a street fighter raised by his mother in a trashy trailer park on the edge of the black ghetto in Las Vegas. The title is a metaphor for the mean streets of Gibb Quinn’s gangbanger neighborhood. Gibb’s rise out of poverty to a successful business career as a star computer salesman is a quintessential American success story. That is, until the Big Byte Corporation transfers him to a small coastal town in New England to rescue a failing retail outlet. Chatham, Connecticut is populated by narrow-minded people who treat Gibb as a hustler from Sin City. Matters take a turn for the worse when he clashes with the powers that be that rule the town like royalty. Yale graduates one and all, the powers that be resent his developing interest in Alicia Farrell, the town beauty who happens to be engaged to one of their own. From there the story proceeds apace to its unforeseen ending.


Gibb Quinn was raised by his mother in a trailer park in a gangbanger neighborhood in Las Vegas. She worked and sacrificed much so that she could pay for Gibb's private school education, not allowing him to rely on charity, because charity was for losers. His father was an abusive gambler who only came around to rough up his mother and remove any money she managed to save. She wanted her son to succeed. He did succeed, but before he could get his mother out of the trailer park, she died from cancer that he wasn't even aware she was suffering from. His guilt over this plagues him through the book and plays a major role in his relationships with God and people. He often wants to help people, believes they can be saved if they try hard enough, but refuses to attend mass anymore.
He grows to be a shining star in computer sales for the Big Byte company and is sent to a small town in Connecticut when their branch is failing in order to turn things around. He is thrust into a setting where strangers are not welcome, and is further ostracised when the rumor filled closed minded members of the town decide he is interested in Alicia Farrel. Alicia is engaged, but seems to pursue a relationship with Gibb anyway. Gibb is torn between his attraction to Alicia, and his live in relationship with local cocktail waitress, Sally. Sally has an on and off relationship with the local drug dealer, and she ends up leaving Gibb to go back to the drugs.

When the town comes down on him and boycotts his company because they believe he is breaking up Alicia and her fiance, Gibb has tough choices to make. Does he stay in Chatham, or go back to Seattle and take the position offered to him by his patron?

The story is well written and thought provoking, and if you have ever lived in a small town, probably familiar in many aspects. You will probably find yourself rooting for Gibb and Alicia to break free from the chains of what is expected and take a chance on each other. I enjoyed this book, but when it came to the end? The end is no where in sight. You will have to read the next book, which I can only assume/hope is coming, to find out what happens between Alicia and Gibb. I certainly would like to find out.
I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review.


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