Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio
We meet May in 1917 as she is being sued by a female friend named Frank, and preparing to stand trial for extortion. The novel alternates between the trial and May’s backstory, which of course she presents in a way she hopes will make the reader believe her version of events over Frank’s.
May is just 18 in 1887 when she leaves her impoverished background to work in Chicago, supposedly with the intent of helping to support her mother and brothers. Things don’t go exactly as planned and she ends up a prostitute in one of the city’s many bordellos. She quickly discovers looks, charm, and conniving wiles can be very seductive, leading aristocratic men (and at least one woman) to do just about anything for her. May’s life becomes a whirlwind of cash, fine jewels, social status, world travel, and scandalous cons.
Along the way she garners the unwanted attention of the Pinkerton Agency, more specifically agent Reed Dougherty, who relentlessly tracks May around the world. He always seems to be a step behind, but somehow present at just the moment May is about to successfully complete her next con.
Although there were a couple of times I wasn’t so sure May didn’t realize a tad too late the truth may have brought her happiness, overall I wasn’t particularly fond of her or her escapades. The cons were amusing to a point; however, she made taking advantage of her friends a lifestyle, and showed little to no remorse along the way.
Still, you don’t have to like May to find this a fun and fast paced read. I think Parlor Games would make an entertaining book club selection, as the opinions of readers will vary greatly on whether May’s underlying intentions were really for the benefit or her family or strictly for her own gain.
To learn more about this title and place orders, visit http://bit.ly/Y14veq.