Murder at Rough Point: Gilded Newport Mysteries #4 by Alyssa Maxwell

Murder at Rough Point: Gilded Newport Mysteries #4 by Alyssa Maxwell

I’m a sucker for New England based stories, add in the historic Newport cottages in their heyday and twist it all together with a mystery and I’m hooked.  Alyssa Maxwell is on the blog today with the fourth title in her Gilded Newport Mysteries series, along with an excerpt. Please read on for my review of

Murder at Rough Point

Working to support herself, despite her more infamous and wealthy Vanderbilt relations, Emma Cross is the Fancies and Fashions reporter for the Newport Observer, working toward her dreams of following Nellie Bly, and reporting on “real” news. When she is assigned to report on a gathering at Rough Point, owned by her cousins and now acting as an artist’s retreat.  Full of notables, from Edith Wharton to Emma’s own parents back from Europe, she’s all set to do the best story possible.

Arriving at Rough Point, much is as Emma expected: notable people, intellectual discussions, plenty of history on view. What she didn’t expect is the undercurrent of jealousy and tension amongst those purported to be friends.  But when an English Baronet, an artist, is found dead at the foot of the cliffs, there is a mystery afoot.  Quickly the story turns to the multitudes of people in attendance, as they are slowly disappearing due to unfortunate circumstances, and the clues and possibilities are many. As Emma’s clear vision and memory have been helpful in past cases, her insight and clear thinking serve to take the reader through the suspects, the moments leading to the murder, and eventually to the murderer.

A wonderful story that is well-plotted and carries a sense of history and the solid personality of Emma, showing her intelligence, determination and logical thought processes that further present her as a viable character.  The story is intriguing and engrossing, easy to visualize glamor and riches contrast with the personalities of the party-goers, showing their more human moments and warts clearly.  A wonderful introduction (for me) to this series, I’ll be adding the earlier titles in the series to my shelves for those days when a cup of tea and a mystery are all that is desired.

Murder at Rough Point: Gilded Newport Mysteries #4 by Alyssa Maxwell

Title: Murder at Rough Point
Author: Alyssa Maxwell
Series: Gilded Newport Mysteries #4
Genre: American, Gilded Age, Historical Fiction, Mystery Elements
Published by: Kensington
ISBN: 1496703286
Published on: 30 August, 2016
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 304
Rated: four-stars
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In glittering Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, 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.

Fancies and Fashion reporter Emma Cross is sent by the Newport Observer to cover an elite house party at Rough Point, the “cottage” owned by her distant cousin Frederick Vanderbilt, which has been rented as a retreat for artists. 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—an English baronet—is discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff, Rough Point becomes anything but a house of mirth. After a second guest is found murdered, no one is above suspicion—including Emma’s parents.

Even as Newport police detective Jesse Whyte searches for a killer in their midst, 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…

See the Gilded Newport Mysteries Series on GoodReads

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Read an Excerpt  

 CHAPTER 1Newport, RI September 1896
“You will come down from there this instant. Now, sir.” I clapped my hands for emphasis, but to no avail. The individual whose disorderly bulk presently concealed the newest tear in the leather seat of my buggy merely tilted his head at me with an infuriating mixture of defiance and incomprehension.That look begged the question: How could I possibly object to his accompanying me? Yes, well. Such had been my morning thus far. The same individual had earlier spilled water across the kitchen floor and managed to fold the doormat in half so that upon entering from the garden, I’d first stumbled over the mat and then slid sideways across the wet floorboards. These acrobatics culminated with the bumping of my hip on the edge of the kitchen table.While I did not find this latest antic any more endearing, it was not, however, entirely unexpected.The rays of an uncertain sun seeped through lacy cloud cover and the sharp tang of low tide permeated the air and settled on my tongue. I stepped closer to the buggy and unceremoniously took hold of a bold red collar. “I must be off, and you, good sir, must vacate this seat immediately.”Patch, a brown and white spaniel mix and Gull Manor’s newest and unruliest resident, whimpered sadly and resisted my gentle tug for all of a second or two. Then, with a growly whine, he hopped down onto the footboard and from there sprang to the ground beside me.I bent to stroke his sweetly rounded head, which reached just above my knees. The curling fur slipped like warm velvet between my fingers. “There now, your job is to keep Nanny and Katie company while I’m gone. Be sure no harm comes to them.” Did he understand me? Oftentimes I believed he did. On this occasion he licked my hand and took off at an uneven lope, his shaggy ears flapping and his curling tail feathering in the breeze. He bolted out of sight around the corner of my sprawling if somewhat ramshackle house that had once belonged to my great-aunt Sadie.

I was not about to waste the opportunity, for who knew how long it would be before Patch remembered that Nanny, my housekeeper, and Katie, my housemaid, were fully capable of taking care of themselves. I climbed into my gig and clucked to my old roan hack, Barney. He lurched into a halfhearted stroll. Barney only knew one speed, but his leisurely pace was just fine with me today as I hadn’t far to go.

My front lawn, which had recently benefited from the attentions of my uncle Cornelius Vanderbilt’s gardeners, showed tinges of yellow and brown, a sure sign that autumn had arrived. Though the elms and maples on the perimeter of my property remained heavy with summer growth and showed only hints of the blazing colors to come, the hawthorn, boxwood, and azaleas closer to the house already looked tired and thin.

Despite the fading summer and my trials with a naughty, nearly full-grown pup, my spirits ascended with each of Barney’s labored steps. Mr. Millford, editor-in-chief and my employer at the Newport Observer,had called last night with a new assignment for me, one that promised nothing in the way of danger. That in itself came as a welcome relief, for I’d had enough of danger back in July. Yet neither was this to be one of Bellevue Avenue’s extravagant fetes, about which I had written countless frivolous columns about gowns, jewels, tableware, and decorations. No, for once I would neither be threatened by murderers nor secretly bored by frippery, and, best of all, I had been asked for specifically. Asked for. By name. It seemed I was establishing a reputation as a journalist. Finally.

One question did niggle at the back of my mind, but I resolved to ignore it. Why contemplate vexing riddles in the face of my good fortune?

As we left Gull Manor behind, a sturdy ocean breeze threatened to lift my hat right off my head. I placed one hand on the crown of my straw boater and turned my face into the gusts, letting my eyes fall half closed while I enjoyed the heady promise of a story of substance, the likes of which Newport hadn’t seen in far too long. Decades, actually. I didn’t even mind when the gull feather, dyed blue by Nanny to match my carriage dress, worked loose from my hatband and fluttered away. More than a decade ago, the intelligentsia — artists, writers, and philosophers — who had once inhabited our city in such great numbers had fled before the onslaught of the industrial barons such as my uncle Cornelius. Suddenly they were back, at least a small number of them were, and it seemed they wanted me to be the means through which they announced their return.

Me.

“Barney, do you realize this could be a new beginning, not only for me as a reporter, but for Newport as well?” I let him have his head, and while this only encouraged him to slacken the pace, we’d arrive at our destination in plenty of time. Barney knew the way to Bellevue Avenue as well as he knew his way into his own cozy stall.

For it was to Bellevue that we headed, but where the avenue made its ninety-degree turn north toward the opulent mansions that stretched along its length, we took a sharp right onto the curving driveway of Rough Point, the estate owned by Uncle Cornelius’s youngest brother, Frederick. Here was no palazzo like The Breakers, or Italianate villa like Beechwood, or the neoclassical variation of Versailles’s Le Petit Trianon that was Marble House.

 

 

About Alyssa Maxwell

Alyssa Maxwell began a love affair with the city of Newport while visiting friends there back in her high school days. Time and again the harbor‑side, gas‑lit neighborhoods drew her to return, and on one of those later visits she met the man who would become her husband. Always a lover of history, Alyssa found that marrying into a large, generations‑old Newport family opened up an exciting new world of historical discovery. From the graveyards whose earliest markers read from the seventeenth century, to original colonial houses still lived in today, to the Newport Artillery Company whose curator for many years was her husband’s grandfather, Newport became a place of fascination and romantic charm. Today, Alyssa and her husband reside beneath the palms and bright skies of Florida, but part of her heart remains firmly in that small New England city of great significance, a microcosm of American history spanning from before the Revolution through the Civil War, the Industrial Age, the Gilded Age, and beyond.

 

 

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