Murder at Ochre Court (A Gilded Newport Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Setting – Rhode Island
Kensington (July 31, 2018)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Kindle ASIN: B0776DJ8S9
In the summer of 1898, reporter Emma Cross investigates a shocking death among the bright lights of Newport’s high society . . .
After a disappointing year as a society columnist for the Herald and staying with her more well-heeled Vanderbilt relatives in New York City, Emma has returned to the salty air, glittering ocean vistas, and grand stately mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, more determined than ever to report on hard news.
But for now she’s covering the social event of the season at Ochre Court, a coming-out ball designed to showcase Cleo Cooper-Smith, who will be literally on display, fittingly as Cleopatra, in an elaborate tableau vivant. Recently installed modern electricity will allow Miss Cooper-Smith to truly shine. But as the deb ascends to her place of honor, the ballroom is plunged into darkness. When the lights come back on, Cleo sits still on her throne, electrocuted to death.
Quickly establishing that the wiring was tampered with, Emma now has a murder to investigate. And the array of eligible suspects could fill another ballroom—from a shady New York real estate developer to a neglected sister and the mother of a spurned suitor. As Emma begins to discover this crime has unseen connections to a nefarious network, she puts her own life at risk to shine a light on the dark motives behind a merciless murder.
Emma clearly has not been happy in New York. Her work for the Herald as a society columnist has been pretty mundane. She really wants to be a hard news journalist, something very few women have been given the chance to do. She has a huge decision to make. Will she return to New York after covering the coming-out ball of Cleo Cooper-Smith or will she stay in Newport and try to find a way to follow her dream?
Ochre Court is where the party for Miss Cooper-Smith is taking place. The Goelet’s have just installed modern electricity and the decorations and planned tableau vivant should be spectacular and the talk of the season. But as the debutante dressed as Cleopatra takes her place on the throne, the room shockingly goes dark. As soon as lighting is restored a horrible sight awaits the crowd. Miss Cooper-Smith is dead, she has been electrocuted and the wiring has been tampered with. The young lady was murdered and there is a room full of suspects.
With Emma on the scene, she plans to report on the death for the Herald and investigate the murder too. The problem is as she uncovers the truth she is putting herself in the killer’s sights. She may miss her final deadline if she isn’t careful.
Alyssa Maxwell is an extraordinary storyteller. She is able to blend real historical times, places and events into a fictional story that will have readers believing they are reading a true account. She is careful to separate fact from fiction at the end of the story. It is so easy to see that she has researched the era and the area extensively. It is also very easy for the reader to escape right into the pages and away to Newport circa 1898.
Emma Cross is a protagonist that is smart, engaging and very independent for a woman at this point in history. Because of her shirttail relationship to the Vanderbilt family, she is able to call on and question almost all members of the elite 400 Club. She doesn’t hold back either. They are not always happy to see her, but they usually come around to answering her questions. Also in this story, Emma meets Nellie Bly, a famous female journalist who has inspired Emma to follow her passion of becoming a hard news reporter.
We meet many new characters in this installment and each is very defined but they all seem to have some kind of secret that causes Emma to really dig to find the truth. The truth leads her to some shady dealings in New York, and that takes the story in direction Emma has been pondering a while. Twists, yes. Turns, yet. Surprising reveal, yes, yes, yes.
The cover of the book gives us a nice picture of Ochre Court, but after reading each book in this series and the author’s notes at the end I always find myself searching for more information about the place and the family that actually lived there. I really enjoyed this post on The Gilded Age Era, complete with pictures and floor plans. Seeing those confirmed that what I had imagined from the author’s wonderful descriptions were spot on.
Thanks to Ms. Maxwell readers are treated to a rich story set in the Gilded Age with a complex mystery that keeps us guessing right up until the end. Then she gives us just a little snippet that leaves us craving for the next book in this series.
Every book in this series is wonderful and I do recommend reading them all in order. I am amazed at all Emma Cross has been through in these six stories.
About the Author
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.
Also by Alyssa Maxwell
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”