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 first came across Alyssa Maxwell's work in Murder Most Malicious at the beginning of this year. Aside from the title (and I'ma huge fan of alliteration), she painted a most entertaining picture of post WWI English society.
Now, in Murder at Rough Point, Ms. Maxwell has done the same for society 'across the pond', where the lines of propriety are clearly drawn and to which society strictly adheres ... sometimes to the detriment of justice and kindness.
Emma has taken the lemons in her life and come up with her own tasty version of lemonade, which is my way of saying that despite her life on the fringes of Newport society, she has fashioned a life that suits her. She is distantly related to 'the' Vanderbilts, so gets an invitation to the fancy party at Rough Point, despite her having (fans at the ready, ladies)...a job. Amongst the guests are her parents, who are described as Bohemian. This seems to be the term applied to creative types who don't follow society's expectations, but are granted admission anyway because of their artistry.
In Emma, Ms. Maxwell has given us another intrepid young woman who is as talented at investigating as she is at her life. Although this time, it is not her ladies' maid who assists her in finding a killer, it is none other than the writer Edith Wharton! The lines between history and the world of the book blend together in a most interesting way, adding to my delight in reading this book.
MEET 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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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)
This book helped me fulfill the following 2016 Reading Challenges: