I love this vibrant, lively, insanely readable series, a series that takes unexpected turns with its characters but still hews to the traditional norms of historical mystery fiction. The first book in the series, A Death of No Importance, was a fabulous origin story, where ladies’ maid Jane Prescott takes on the nouveau riche Benchley family in the first decade of the twentieth century. The books are set in New York City and the Benchley girls are viewed as rich upstarts, and Jane’s special charge, Louise, is shy and gauche and seems to fit in nowhere.
Death, Diamonds, and Deception is the fifth book in Rosemary Simpson’s Gilded Age mystery series set in New York City in the 1880s. It’s the first I’ve read, but I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely look for the others. The two protagonists are heiress Prudence MacKenzie and ex-Pinkerton agent Geoffrey Hunter, who are partners in a detective agency. Prudence is the daughter of a wealthy judge, a prominent man in New York, who died about two years before this book begins. She is part of the city’s elite, the world of the Astors and Vanderbilts, even though she defies the standards of that society by becoming a detective. Geoffrey is a Southerner who came to New York around the time of the Civil War because he was anti-slavery. He is quite a bit older than she is. Prudence is around twenty, and, although Geoffrey’s age is not specified, it seems that he was already an adult at the time of the Civil War, so he must be in his early forties at least.
I remember when Rhys Bowen started writing her Molly Murphy series. I inhaled them the second they were published. I loved (and still do) the mix of the feisty Molly, her journey of discovery as a new immigrant, the clever mysteries, and the turn of the century settings. Rhys Bowen has the gift of narrative. I am so happy to tell you – because I want to make you a fellow fan – that Mariah Fredericks has that very same gift.
I have so far inhaled all three of her books featuring ladies’ maid Jane Prescott, who works for the wealthy Mrs. Louise Tyler around the 1910’s. She has a way with a story, and a way of getting you to care about and be invested in her characters. In this novel Jane is on “vacation”, so she goes home. Home for Jane is a refuge for fallen women, run by her uncle, a Presbyterian pastor. He takes women who come from the streets and gives them a place to live, something to eat, and a little hope for the future and a different way of earning a living.
I was knocked out by Mariah Frederick’s first novel, A Death of No Importance, and wasn’t sure how her book about a maid in a wealthy American household slightly after the turn of the century could be translated into a series, but it seems it surely can be. Jane Prescott, a woman of her time in some ways, is grieving over the recent loss of the Titanic like everyone else, but unlike everyone else, she’s shepherding her charge, Miss Louise Benchley, through the trials and tribulations of a giant society wedding.
Mariah Fredericks wrote one of my favorite books of 2018, A Death of No Importance, featuring Jane Prescott, maid to the wealthy Benchley family in 1910 New York. The next book in the series, Death of a New American, will be published in April of 2019. and it’s every bit as terrific, vital, and hard to put down. Mariah was nice enough to answer a few questions about her books.
Q: I like that you include the Titanic but it’s just almost background. Did you feel that as you were writing a novel set in 1912, it had to be a part of the canvas? How did you approach it?
Black and White Ball, Loren D. Estleman, Deep into a now 80 book and counting career, and 27 in to his iconic Amos Walker series, what is Loren Estleman going to come up with that might be new? You might be surprised. In this novel Walker crosses paths with one of Estleman’s other characters, Peter Macklin, who hires Walker to look after his ex-wife. The meet up of these two classic characters delivers true energy and snap to this tight, well written novel. Paced perfectly, set in a gritty yet realistic Detroit, and sporting the truly lovely prose and incredible dialogue that are an Estleman trademark, this is a great addition to a classic series by the greatest private eye writer at work at the moment.