Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Book Review: Wicked Wives by Gus Pelagatti

A Novel Based On A True Story

By: Gus Pelagatti

Published: July 1, 2008


"Wicked Wives" is based on the true story of the 1938 Philadelphia murder scandals in which seventeen wives were arrested for murdering their husbands. Mastermind conspirator Giorgio DiSipio, a stunning lothario and local tailor who preys upon disenchanted and unfaithful wives, convinces twelve of them to kill their spouses for insurance money. The murder conspiracy is very successful until one lone assistant D.A., Tom Rossi, uncovers the plot and brings the perpetrators to justice. "Wicked Wives" is a story made for Hollywood, combining murder, corruption, treachery, love, lust and phenomenal detail as it vividly captures Depression-era Philadelphia.

When the author was eight years old, he overheard adults in his South Philadelphia neighborhood discussing seventeen disenchanted and unfaithful neighborhood wives who allegedly murdered their husbands for insurance money.  This was a fascinating topic for an eight year old.  His fascination for this conversation turned into an obsession as he grew older and he knew that he had to write about these women, their lovers, and their husbands.  

This is typically not my genre for books, but after reading the first chapter, (read it HERE) I had to read how this story played out.  With short chapters and a fast-paced writing style, I quickly read through this story.  The story has lots of dialogue and minimal descriptive elements, so you are able to move right along.  

I found the government corruption and misuse of power to be much the same as what we read about in today's news.  Even in the 1930's people's use of drugs, sex, and violence mimic much of what we read today, but today, people are caught due to high-tech autopsies, fingerprint testing, and DNA technology.  I found the detective end of the case very interesting as they pieced the crimes together the "old-fashioned" way.  Even though one of the wives (I won't spoil it and say which one) was not found guilty, I think the way the detective and DA stuck to their case was to be commended.  They had much to lose by staying on this case and I'm not sure in today's harsh political climate, that someone would risk it all to make it right.  I have to hope there are people much like D.A.Tom Rossi still in this world.  

Pelagatti obviously spent much time and effort researching these cases and finding ways to make the story even more interesting to the reader.  The way the story played out reminded me a lot of those 20/20 type of news specials that are on weeknight TV.  The story also reminded me of THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, a story of murder during the World's Fair in Chicago.  Yes, even in simpler times, there was sex, drugs and murder.  

The story of all these murderers and their victims was heartbreaking, as so many women were deceived by one man.  I must warn you that the sexual activities in this novel are descriptive and frequent, but a necessary part of the story.  The lives taken because of lust and greed were unfortunate and the ripple effects from the mistakes of these women were felt for many years.  

This novel has true crime, suspense, and historical fiction wrapped into one exciting novel.   All the way through the novel, the author keeps you on your toes and then ends it with a shocking twist that will be sure to drop your jaw.  

Gus Pelagatti is a practicing trial lawyer with offices in Philadelphia.  He based this novel on numerous interviews with judges, lawyers, and witnesses involved in these cases.  Check out this short YouTube video of the author talking about the book.

For more information about the author and this book, go to

To purchase a copy of WICKED WIVES, click the photo below:

Thanks to Dorothy at for sending me a copy of this novel.  This review is my honest opinion.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

No comments: