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May 31, 2011 / Leslie

Review: The Hat

The Hat
by Babette Hughes

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sunstone Press
Publish Date: March 31st 2011
Format: Hardcover, 198 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

It is June, 1932. Someone wants Ben Gold, head of a bootlegging organization, dead. The killer strikes quickly and disappears without a trace.

Flashback two years. Smart, pretty Kate Brady is thrilled to find out she has received a scholarship to Ohio State where she hopes to study to be a writer. Now all she has to do is find enough money for room, board and books and she will be on her way to realizing her goals. Her family does not have the money to pay for her education; she must earn it herself. Her father left when she was young and her mother wages a constant battle with alcoholism.

Sadly, Kate’s dreams are smashed when she is fired from her job at Shapiro’s Bakery. It is the beginning of the Great Depression and business is slow. While she worked at the bakery she met one of the customers, the handsome Ben Gold, a man with money and charm who was very attracted to her. After a whirlwind courtship she agrees to marry him even though she barely knows him. A friend warns her about Ben but she won’t listen. With no hope of a job or future and a miserable home life, Ben is the answer to all her problems.

Soon Kate realizes that life with Ben is not what she expected. His business dealings, which she soon finds out are illegal activities and bootlegging, take priority. She begins spending time with Bobby, Ben’s bookkeeper, and as she gets to know him she realizes he is the type of man she really wanted and marrying Ben was a big mistake.

I like the use of the flashback technique. Knowing that Ben will die sets us up with a mystery. As the story progresses the suspense builds while we wonder who is responsible for the murder. The author shifts suspicion among several possibilities as Ben becomes an even more unlikable character. As I flew through the pages towards the ending I was pretty sure I knew who the murder was but this just kept me turning the pages faster to find out if I was right.

And what about the hat referred to in the title? The hat plays a key role in a story with a very satisfying ending that left me wanting more. At just under 200 pages this well-written, fast-paced novel was just the right length even though when I reached the end I wasn’t ready to put the book down.

Recommended, especially for those that enjoy books set during The Great Depression and the prohibition era.

About The Author

From the author’s webpage:
The Hat has its roots in personal history. What lends this novel its authenticity is that its author, Babette Hughes, is the daughter of a bootlegger who was murdered by the Mafia when she was an infant. Hughes (née Rosen) spent years piecing together her father’s bootlegging career and murder, despite her mother’s attempt to hide the truth. The Hat draws directly on the drama of Hughes’ search for the truth, as told in her acclaimed memoir, Lost And Found.
Source: Review copy provided by the publicist.


Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / May 31 2011 3:02 pm

    I love the time period this book is set in. This sounds like a winner!


  2. TheBookGirl / Jun 1 2011 9:26 am

    Thanks for the thorough review on this one — I had not heard of this book before, but I like reading about things set in the Great Depression, so I want to check it out. Curious about the signficance of the hat now 🙂


  3. Julie @ Knitting and Sundries / Jun 6 2011 6:59 pm

    See, THIS is why I love book bloggers and I love being one. This is a book that would likely have flown right under my radar without seeing your review. It’s going on my wishlist!


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