Book Review: The Women’s Club by Michael Crawley and Laurie Clayton

The Women’s Club
Michael Crawley and Laurie Clayton
MaxCrime/John Blake, Sept 2010, paperback (£6.99).

This is how The Women’s Club is described on the cover and on Amazon : “When Jack Hale invested in Celia's advertising agency, it was not because he had faith in her abilities – it was because she's his daughter. But, suddenly, she's an inexplicable success. When he takes her out to dinner to celebrate, they witness a daring murder, committed in full public view. There's no way the killer could have escaped without a precisely orchestrated series of improbable events …or were they just very, very lucky? Is it really possible that there is a female conspiracy, dedicated to ridding the world of evil – or even just inconvenient – men? Jack must risk everything to uncover the truth about The Women's Club.”

This novel describes these, and subsequent events in New York City. Jack is a widower who is guilty about his wife’s death – he’s been a workaholic all his life and did not pay her much attention, though he gave her lots of money. Now he’s retired he is bored, rich and wants to know his daughter better. The daughter has mixed attitudes to her father. After the two of them witness the murder described in the blurb above, Jack becomes romantically interested in Anne, the police officer investigating the crime. 

Much of the novel describes various women who are in unsatisfactory relationships with, or are otherwise treated meanly by, men. These men begin to die. Who is behind this? And so on.

I did not enjoy this novel at all. It’s bland, poorly written, clunky and 100 per cent predictable. Events are described superficially with no attempt at realistic detail. On the positive side, it is very easy to read and has an unflagging pace. Even so, I have to admit I could not bear to continue with it after reading the first third or so – I skimmed the rest of the book, which was more of the same, and the ending turned out exactly as I’d thought.

I was mildly curious about the authors as I had not heard of them before; there is no mention of the novel at the "MaxCrime" section of the publisher's website. I soon discovered that the authors are a couple, the female half of which writes romantic fiction and “erotica” (eg Black Lace novels) under the name of Madeline Moore . There is an interview with her here, in which she describes writing this book, among other things.

I read a publisher's copy of this novel, kindly given to me by Karen of Euro Crime.

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Women’s Club by Michael Crawley and Laurie Clayton

  1. Maxine – As always, I very much appreciate your candid and thoughtful reviews. I know exactly what you mean about novels that are so predictable that one can skim them and get the main point without any surprises. Sorry to hear that you were disappointed in this one; I think I’ll leave it off my TBR list…

  2. I know you’re a reviewer and it’s your job to review books and be honest about whether you like them or not, but I think your review was a little harsh.
    That’s my father and stepmother you’re talking about.
    My dad and ‘Madeline Moore’ have plenty of fans. I’m sorry you’re not one of them.

  3. Thanks for your views, Kim. I am sure these authors have plenty of fans, and that’s fine. It is not my job to review books, in the sense that nobody pays me to write them and I make no money out of it (eg you will see no advertisements or Amazon links on this site). I do it as a hobby, and yes, I do provide my honest opinion. I did not think this book very good. As a counterbalance, I provided links to the author’s blog and an interview with her (as there is nothing on the publisher website about the book, or was not when I wrote my review). Therefore, readers of this review have access to a more positive view of the book so can make up their own minds. (If I had found any other independent reviews of the book, I’d have linked to them too, as is my practice, but there were none that I could find.) As you are a relative of the authors, I am sure you don’t like to read a poor review, and I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt, which was not my intention. If you have any objective reason for thinking my review unfair or unprofessional, please let me know.

  4. Hi Maxine,
    The novel primarily takes place in Seattle, although other cities, including New York, also feature in the book. I’m sorry you found it bland, poorly written, clunky and predictable. Ouch. Michael and I sure had a good time writing it, in part because of the large cast of characters and their different styles, which allowed us to write in a variety of styles. We thought the premise was timely and original. Naturally, we don’t expect to please all of the people all of the time but this review is our first and, though it isn’t a ‘professional review’ and the author of the review didn’t actually (by her own admission) read the whole book and, of course, the parts she did read she didn’t get right – well – it hurt, although the more I think about it, the less it hurts.

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