Book Review

‘Murder at Beechwood’ by Alyssa Maxwell

mab amSTORY: For Newport, Rhode Island’s high society, the summer of 1896 brings lawn parties, sailboat races…and murder.

Having turned down the proposal of Derrick Andrews, Emma Cross has no imminent plans for matrimony—let alone motherhood. But when she discovers an infant left on her doorstep, she naturally takes the child into her care. Using her influence as a cousin to the Vanderbilts and a society page reporter for the Newport Observer, Emma launches a discreet search for the baby’s mother.

One of her first stops is a lawn party at Mrs. Caroline Astor’s Beechwood estate. But an idyllic summer’s day is soon clouded by tragedy. During a sailboat race, textile magnet Virgil Monroe falls overboard. There are prompt accusations of foul play—and even Derrick Andrews falls under suspicion. Deepening the intrigue, a telltale slip of lace may link the abandoned child to the drowned man. But as Emma navigates dark undercurrents of scandalous indiscretions and violent passions, she’ll need to watch her step to ensure that no one lowers the boom on her…

REVIEW: Newport, Rhode Island (Aquidneck Island) – June 1896

Emma Cross is a poor relation of the Vanderbilt family.  She lives in her small home, Gull Manor, with her Nanny who is now her housekeeper.  Her parents moved to Paris to pursue their artistic abilities. Emma works as a reporter for the Fancies and Fashions Page of the Newport Observer newspaper.  In this job, she is able to report on the social scene with the Vanderbilt and Astor families as they still invite her to attend. Emma is a very independent young woman with no plans for marriage or a family anytime soon.

When she awakes one morning, she hears a sound at her front door and finds a tiny baby boy on her doorstep.  Tucked into the baby’s blanket is a handkerchief with a distinctive patterned lace edging.  She and Nanny immediately take care of the baby as Emma begins to investigate where he came from.  She reports her find to her friend and admirer, Jesse Whyte, a detective for the Newport police.

At an afternoon party Emma attends at Mrs. Astor’s, a storm comes up just as two sailboats with guests of the party begin a race.  When a guest is lost overboard, Emma and the police wonder if it could be murder.

When Emma and her cousin are attacked while examining the damaged sailboat, she knows for sure that someone is trying to scare her off and the sailboat accident has to have been intentional.

This is the third book of the author’s Gilded Newport Mystery series.  I have read the other two books and enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed this one.  In addition to a good mystery, it’s fun to get a glimpse into the lives of the Vanderbilt and Astor families.

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Complimentary copy provided by the publisher


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