City of Lies

Written by Victoria Thompson
Review by Cynthia Slocum

Elizabeth Miles must flee for her life in Washington City when Oscar Thornton realizes that she and her brother have conned him out of a large sum of money. With Thornton and his thugs closing in, she slips into a crowd of suffragists demonstrating in front of the White House and quickly orchestrates a disturbance that lands all the demonstrators in jail, where her pursuers cannot follow her.

The incarceration proves much longer and grimmer than expected, and during that harrowing experience she bonds with two of the suffragists. Through a series of lies she hides her identity as a grifter to be accepted by these respectable women of a higher social class. Keeping her secret becomes nearly impossible once she travels to New York with her new friends and meets Gideon Bates, a perceptive lawyer and son of one of the suffragists. Elizabeth falls into a trap set by Thornton and must rely on her sharp wits to stay alive. Lies and manipulation offer the only way out of her dangerous predicament; she hopes they will serve as a means of revenge as well.

This tautly written, intriguing story merges historical facts regarding a draconian detainment of suffragists in 1917, and the hunger strike they endured to gain their freedom, with multiple layers of fictional plot complications. It also provides an interesting glimpse into the shadowy world of early 20th-century con artists and their sometimes-nefarious targets. The well-drawn characters from contrasting strata of society who cross paths develop unexpected attachments, and the action builds to a gratifying surprise ending.