“They said the typewriter would unsex us,” is the first sentence of Suzanne Rindell’s page-turner The Other Typist. Rose, a typist for a police precinct in 1923 New York City, is quietly living her life until the beautiful unsettling Odalie waltzes in on a cloud of perfume and bootleg gin, takes a seat in the bull pen, and proceeds to destroy Rose’s life. Or does Rose destroy Odalie’s?
If you like tidy resolutions and everything spelled out, run, run, run away from The Other Typist, which is as dark and labyrinthine as a Greenwich Village street. But there are great joys in store for anyone who likes to put down a novel, immediately call a friend, order that friend to buy it and read it in a certain time frame, and then frantically discuss what the ending could mean.
But the authorial twists are a separate matter completely from the dark narrative, which finds good girl Rose increasingly into Odalie’s orbit, losing herself in the process. Or finding herself. Rose isn’t the most reliable narrator, which is why it’s taken me three months to even try to discuss this novel. A friend described it as “Rules of Civility noir.” That’s less spoiler-y than anything I can come up with, so we’ll let it stand!