Book recommendation: The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell

Let’s kick this book recommendation off with an admission: when I picked up The Other Typist, ready to dive into reading it, I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I’d read the summary on the book flap. And sure, I’d picked it out of the “fiction and literature” section of the bookstore.

But, I didn’t know what genre it actually fell into. Would I be reading a romantic story, or a tragic one? A suspenseful thriller or lighthearted tale of friendship?

It turned out that The Other Typist had a little bit of all four. At least, I think it did. I’m still not entirely sure.

Rose Baker leads a simple, but powerful life: at home, she’s one of several young women renting a room in a run-down boarding house. And at work, her records of criminals’ confessions ensure justice is brought down on those who deserve it. It’s the type of life Rose wouldn’t trade for the world. Until, that is, Odalie is hired as the precinct’s newest typist, and Rose is pulled into a world she never could have imagined.

I’m going to come back to the plot of this novel in a moment, but for now, I’d like to talk about the writing itself. I was hooked on it from the very first line, and it kept me captivated throughout the novel. It had this rhythm; it’s one that I can’t quite explain, but also can’t help but admire.

Now, let’s get back to the characters and the plot. Throughout most of the novel, I couldn’t quite decide who to trust. I flip-flopped on a few different characters, and I’m still not sure if I chose correctly.

The combination of not knowing who to trust, and not knowing what was going to happen next, kept me hooked all the way through the novel. Sure, a part of me knew that something was bound to happen, and that that something would be big. But I didn’t know exactly what it would be, or how it would happen.

And when it finally did happen… well, let’s leave it at this: man, did that ending ever throw me for a loop.

Goodreads summary

New York City, 1924: the height of Prohibition and the whole city swims in bathtub gin.

Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.

But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist’s spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls’ friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose’s fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.

But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?

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