Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am so excited to Welcome Alyssa Maxwell back to Escape With Dollycas!
Murder at Rough Point by Alyssa Maxwell
Has a place ever captured your imagination to the point that you became just a little bit obsessed with it? This happened to me over thirty years ago, when I had my first glimpse of Rough Point, tucked away at the southern end of Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI. Back then, Rough Point was mostly obscured from view by solid iron doors at the bottom of the driveway.
Who lived there? Why those solid doors? Well . . . Doris Duke, tobacco heiress, inherited the estate in the mid-1920s at the age of 12 and owned it until her death in 1993. You could say she was one of the last of the Gilded Age elite. In the last decades of her life, she continued to use Rough Point as well as other estates she owned, but lived a reclusive existence while secrets and rumors swirled around her name. I’m sure you’re wondering what those rumors were. I invite readers to investigate on their own. Suffice it to say here that we owe Doris Duke a great debt for her lifelong commitment to philanthropy and historic preservation. Her efforts, which included establishing the Newport Restoration Foundation in 1968, rescued numerous 18th and 19th century Newport properties that might have fallen prey to the wrecking ball if not for her.
Here’s more about Doris and the Foundation: http://www.newportrestoration.org/about/doris_duke
Originally built for Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt and completed in 1892, Rough Point is aptly named for its secluded, rocky headland that juts out into the turbulent currents where the Atlantic Ocean wraps around the southern tip of Aquidneck Island to eventually feed into Narraganset Bay. The house itself, sprawling and gabled, was designed with English county manors in mind. In Frederick Vanderbilt’s day, the interior was defined by stone and dark, coffered woodwork. In short, this very Gothic house is the perfect setting for a murder mystery.
After building the house, Frederick and Louise decided they didn’t care for Newport – I know, go figure! They started renting the house out, and this gave me a perfect opportunity to introduce an eccentric cast of characters, i.e., a hodgepodge group of artists (an opera singer, sculptor, choreographer, etc.) visiting from Paris – or are they escaping Paris? They’re definitely hiding something. And though they call themselves friends, they thrive on conflict and competition and lots of drama. Added to that is the kind of autumn storm that often pounds the New England coastline, rendering roads impassable and interrupting what tenuous telephone service existed in 1896. There’s no way out, no way to call for help, and a killer is on the loose.
Are we having fun yet?
I’ll admit I channeled a bit of Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, but with my own special Newport twist. It was a fun book to write and I’m very excited to share this story with readers. So much so, I’m giving away a signed hardcover copy here today to a random commenter. So…are you or have you ever become obsessed with a destination? If so, have you visited there and did it live up to your expectations? Share in the comments section and be entered for the drawing! (Due to shipping charges, open to U.S. residents only). Alyssa will choose a winner on Sunday. Be sure to leave an email address so we can contact you.
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 . . .
Coming August 30th – i will be posting my review tomorrow!
Alyssa Maxwell is the author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian and post WWI eras, as well as other periods of history. In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns and strolling the gardens of her manor house, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons. And each year, she and her husband take a trip up to Newport to visit family, and so Alyssa can “shop” for the next mansion to be featured in her Newport series.
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