Here’s a book I have read a few times and re-read today (it’s a small book) – The Golden Room by Irving Wallace. Published in 1988, two years before his dead, is about a brothel & the people involved with it and set in 1903’s Chicago. Minna & Aida Lester, two sisters and divorcees, change their last name to Everleigh and open up the fanciest, most popular & most famous brothel in the world, and maintain a dignified presence in the eyes of the people who like them. All their girls were hand picked for their beauty and were trained in the art of seduction. They were told to learn to talk, sit, appreciate art and culture and make an interesting conversation with the patrons. In the 3 storied mansion house that they converted into the Everleigh club in Chicago, there is a restaurant, offices, a large library and several rooms decorated with the finest & most luxurious style in different themes. They charge the most but you get the most for your money and the girls are best and they also get paid more.
However all is not going too well for them; newly re-elected major Harrison, who gets financial backing from rich meat-packer businessman Armbruster, wows to clean up the city and close down all the gambling houses and whorehouses, starting with the biggest one – The Everleigh Club! To make matters worse, Minna & Aida’s older brother has sent his son Bruce & daughter Cathleen to Chicago for 2 weeks and to live with his sisters – until Cathleen’s marriage to Alan, son of Armbruster! The sister sent away most of the 30 girls on a paid holiday to various hotels in the city, keeping only 6 girls to play as hostesses and pretend that they only run a fancy restaurant for the benefit of young Bruce & Cathleen. One of the girls who remains back is Karen, who is really Mayor Harrison’s secretary and who has come to work in the club as their newest prostitute in order to get enough evidence for the mayor to shut down the club once & for all. The virgin Karen has to pretend to be experienced and fools Minna into hiring her as a replacement for one of the girls who has gone missing. Only Karen didn’t expect to admire the sisters and also fall in love with Bruce.
Bruce is asked by Armbruster to marry his daughter and thereby be welcomed into his business that could see him clear off his family debt but the young lad has eyes only for Karen and stakes his earnings on a horse to win the local derby, which it does. Add to the mix is the new doctor for the ladies of the club – a maniacal Dr. Holmes revels in winning over the young prostitutes, luring them to his huge house, where he has sex with them and then gasses them, chops off the dead bodies into pieces and then burns their remains. When Armbruster unknowingly gets his son to the club for dinner and a woman (as a rite of initiation) he finds out the truth about Cathleen’s family and calls off the wedding. With enough proof seen first hand and his bill, Armbruster provides the evidence for Mayor Harrison to close the club and arrest the sisters. However a visiting German prince, who wants to spend time at the club makes Harrison change his mind and he and Armbruster begs the sisters to reopen the club; which they do, provided the wedding of Cathleen and Alan takes place. However Dr. Holmes has trapped Cathleen & Karen in his house; will Alan & Bruce be in time to stop his killing them? Read the book. A good read 7 outta 10!