In glittering Newport, Rhode Island, status is everything. But despite being a poorer relation to the venerable Vanderbilts, Emma Cross has shaped her own identity—as a reporter and a sleuth.
As the nineteenth century draws to a close, Fancies and Fashion reporter Emma Cross is sent by the Newport Observer to cover an elite house party at Rough Point, a “cottage” owned by her distant cousin Frederick Vanderbilt that has been rented as an artist retreat. To her surprise, the illustrious guests include her estranged Bohemian parents—recently returned from Europe—as well as a variety of notable artists, including author Edith Wharton.
But when one of the artists is discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff, Rough Point becomes anything but a house of mirth. After a second murder, no one is above suspicion—including Emma’s parents. As Newport police detective Jesse Whyte searches for a killer, Emma tries to draw her own conclusions—with the help of Mrs. Wharton. But with so many sketchy suspects, she’ll need to canvas the crime scenes carefully, before the cunning culprit takes her out of the picture next .
I confess to being a fan of both historical fiction and mysteries. This novel combined the two genres – presenting an interesting and enjoyable glimpse into the lifestyle of the Newport elite in the late 19th century. I suspect that Emma Cross would have been a rarity in her time – proud and independent, despite her status as a poor relation of the wealthy Vanderbilt family. The retreat brings her face to face with a bizarre and closely knit gaggle of artists, including her own parents, all of whom seem to have incriminating secrets in their past. The isolated mansion and a lengthy storm force Emma and all of the suspects to remain together, a circumstance reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery. As tensions rise, plot twists and discoveries keep you guessing. I’ll admit I found the pace a bit slow at first, but it improved as the story progressed. The plot resolved nicely with more than one surprise. All in all, a good old-fashioned mystery.
Note: Although this book is part of a series, it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. This was my first time reading anything by this author.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.
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About the Author
Alyssa Maxwell has worked in publishing as an assistant editor and a ghost writer, but knew from an early age that being a novelist was what she wanted most. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian, Edwardian, and post WWI eras. In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns while strolling manor house gardens, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons.
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