The Other Typist (Paperback)
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 9780425268421, 384pp.
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Confessions are Rose Baker’s job. A typist for the New York City Police Department, she sits in judgment like a high priestess. Criminals come before her to admit their transgressions, and, with a few strokes of the keys before her, she seals their fate. But while she may hear about shootings, knifings, and crimes of passion, as soon as she leaves the room, she reverts to a dignified and proper lady. Until Odalie joins the typing pool.
As Rose quickly falls under the stylish, coquettish Odalie’s spell, she is lured into a sparkling underworld of speakeasies and jazz. And what starts as simple fascination turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.
About the Author
Praise For The Other Typist: A Novel…
“From the first page [I] was absorbed...Suzanne Rindell’s story of a 1920s police stenographer who becomes increasingly obsessed with a glamorous new typist reminds me at points of Notes on a Scandal and Patricia Highsmith, but has creepy charms all its own.”—The Paris Review
“Take a dollop of Alfred Hitchcock, a dollop of Patricia Highsmith, throw in some Great Gatsby flourishes, and the result is Rindell’s debut, a pitch-black comedy about a police stenographer accused of murder in 1920s Manhattan....A deliciously addictive, cinematically influenced page-turner, both comic and provocative.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Rindell's debut is a cinematic page-turner.”—Publishers Weekly
“It's The Great Gatsby meets The Talented Mr. Ripley in this psychological thriller by first-time author Rindell.”—Los Angeles Public Library's Best Fiction of 2013
“With hints toward The Great Gatsby, Rindell’s novel aspires to recreate Prohibition-era New York City, both its opulence and its squalid underbelly. She captures it quite well, while at the same time spinning a delicate and suspenseful narrative about false friendship, obsession, and life for single women in New York during Prohibition.” —Booklist
“If you liked Gone Girl, you might enjoy [The Other Typist]...The best book I’ve read so far this summer.”—Greenwich Time
“Totally addictive.”—The Atlantic Wire
“This eerie and compelling debut is a riveting page-turner, narrated by a strangely hypnotic yet dubious young woman who works as a typist for the NYPD in the 1920s. Don’t start this novel at night if you need your beauty sleep—you’ll stay up to all hours devouring its pages.”—Alice LaPlante, New York Times bestselling author of Turn of Mind
“As you read this remarkable first novel you will feel the room temperature drop. It’s chilling till the very end.”—Rita Mae Brown, MFH, Author
“You could make a one-sitting read of The Other Typist: it maintains the riveting dance of question-provoking answers that earn page-turners their name, and Suzanne Rindell’s Jazz Age NYC is gritty, glamorous, and utterly absorbing....you’ll want to talk about The Other Typist.”—Alison Atlee, author of The Typewriter Girl
“Suzanne Rindell messes with your head. The Other Typist pretends to be the story of a nice young woman entering the cutthroat world of police work in 1920s New York. But it’s New York, not the nice young woman, who should be trembling. I had a blast reading this and had my nerves scrambled by the end.”—Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver
“Best for those who can’t get enough of The Great Gatsby and the Roaring Twenties....This thrilling page-turner cinematically captures the opulence—and sordidness—of the Prohibition Era in New York.”—Shape.com
“A story of glamour, prohibition, obsession and corruption, with a fantastic Hitchcockian twist, The Other Typist is a great way to kick off a summer of reading.”—KMUW 89.1, Wichita Public Radio
“A thrilling riff on the classic noir and an impressive first novel.”—Christian Science Monitor
“[A] perfect social comedy: A plain young typist working for the New York Police Department in the 1920s becomes obsessed with a glamorous co-worker. Revealing that there is a murderous twist in Suzanne Rindell’s spellbinder isn’t a spoiler but an essential for enjoying the exhilarating buildup.”—Daily Candy
“With Rose as its sly and slightly unreliable narrator, this suspenseful story will keep you guessing.”—Bookpage
“Rindell is a fine writer, and she’s written a suspenseful and well executed novel. The Other Typist is an elegant debut.”—The Millions
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
Do you think Rose is a reliable or unreliable narrator? Why? If you did question her veracity, at what point in the novel did you begin to do so?
Why is Rose so captivated by Odalie, someone she wholly disapproves of initially?
Through Odalie, Rose gains entry into a world she’s never seen before, one filled with opulence and rich, glamorous people. Clearly Rose is an outsider who doesn’t belong. Yet she seems to take to it all rather quickly. Why do you think this is so? Why, despite all the new people she comes into contact with, is Odalie the only one she seems to be charmed by?
Some readers may think that Rose is a lesbian. Do you? Why or why not? Might her Victorian sensibility, when viewed by a contemporary reader, be misinterpreted and sexualized even if it might be innocent and pure?
Rose is such a stickler for the rules, yet as the novel progresses, she starts breaking them frequently. In retrospect, do you think she ever follows the rules? Or does she follow only the ones she agrees with?
Rose is actually quite funny, an astute observer. (“I crawled into [bed] . . . exhausted . . . from the efforts of making conversation with a man who if he were any duller might be declared catatonic by those in the medical profession.”) Why, then, is she so humorless when it comes to people like Iris, Gib, and the Lieutenant Detective, especially?
Rose states in the beginning of the book: “I am there to transcribe what will eventually come to be known as the truth.” The novel plays with the notion that the written word is superior to the spoken-Rose’s transcripts and her diary that the reader is reading, versus the narration she provides throughout the book. Do you think the written word carries more weight than oral history? Why or why not?
Consider the many possible story lines for Odalie’s history. Did she really kill her ex-fiancé? Was Gib really the driver of the train? Was she indeed a debutante from a wealthy family in Newport? Did she at a young age leave her mother to live with Czakó, the Hungarian, in Europe? Which of these stories is the most plausible? Do you believe any of them is true?
What do you make of Rose’s appearance? Throughout the novel she takes pains to point out that she is plain-looking. Yet the Lieutenant Detective obviously finds her attractive, and at the end of the book, she is a doppelgänger for Odalie, who is portrayed as a knockout. What do you think Rose really looks like? Should her appearance even matter?
When Rose is in the hospital at the end of the book, the doctors call her “Ginevra.” That is the name Teddy used for Odalie. Who do you think is the real Ginevra? Are Odalie and Rose the same person?
What do you make of the kiss at the end of the novel? Is Rose doing it just to get the Lieutenant Detective’s knife, or is there some true feeling behind it? Were you surprised that she admits she’s never kissed a man before?
What do you believe really happened at the end of the book? Did Rose kill Teddy? Or did Odalie?