These Women immerses the reader in South Los Angeles in 2014, in a neighborhood with an abundance of sex workers but also families who wish the neighborhood were clean from vice.
From the points of view of Dorian, the owner of a fish shack who has not been able to come to terms with her daughter’s murder years earlier, Julianna, a self-destructive exotic dancer with a passion for photography, Essie, a brilliant but unfairly discredited detective, Marella, a performance artist, and Anneke, a nurse trying to beautify the neighborhood but ignoring the chaos at home, with interludes from Feelia, a survivor, the story of a serial murderer operating over fifteen years unfurls with each woman unknowingly carrying a piece of the mystery.
The narrators struggle to make themselves heard and to have power in a patriarchal society that dismisses their voices and inflicts violence upon them, and as new murders strike closer to home, they start to question their positions and challenge how others see them—and how they see themselves.
I adored Visitation Street and Wonder Valley, Ivy Podocha’s previous books, and I felt the same way about These Women. Granted, the story is dark and deals with difficult themes, but I felt the ending was satisfying and even hopeful. Additionally, the writing is phenomenal. Podocha’s phrasings and analogies are so singular and so evocative, they are perfection. If I anything, I would like to know more about Anneke whose motivations and behavior were less explained than the other characters.
I highly recommend These Women to fans of literary mysteries such as Long Bright River, Disappearing Earth, and Please See Us as well as to readers of literary fiction. Pochoda’s writing is absolutely beautiful and exquisitely devastating.
The book goes on sale today, May 19. Look for it at your favorite bookstore!
Thank you to NetGalley and Ecco/Harper Collins for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.