On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.
Murder at Wakehurst (A Gilded Newport Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Setting – Rhode Island
Kensington (August 31, 2021)
Hardcover : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1496720741
ISBN-13 : 978-1496720740
Kensington (June 28, 2022)
Language : English
Paperback : 306 pages
ISBN-10 : 1496720776
ISBN-13 : 978-149672077
Kindle ASIN : B08PQ47NSL
For fans of HBO’s The Gilded Age, explore the dark side of the alluring world of America’s 19th century elite in this gripping series of riveting mysteries…
For fans of Rhys Bowen comes the new mystery from acclaimed author Alyssa Maxwell, as she takes readers to the turn of the century mansions of famed Newport, Rhode Island . . . where not all is always golden and murder turns a successful reporter into a part-time amateur investigator . . .
Following the death of her uncle, Cornelius Vanderbilt, in September 1899, a somber Emma is in no mood for one of Newport’s extravagant parties. But to keep Vanderbilt’s reckless son Neily out of trouble, she agrees to accompany him to an Elizabethan fête on the lavish grounds of Wakehurst, the Ochre Point “cottage” modeled after an English palace, owned by Anglophile James Van Alen.
The festivities include a swordplay demonstration, an archery competition, scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, and even a joust. As Emma wanders the grounds, she overhears a fierce argument between a man and a woman behind a tall hedge. As the joust begins, she’s drawn by the barking of Van Alen’s dogs and finds a man on the ground, an arrow through his chest. The victim is one of the 400’s most influential members, Judge Clayton Schuyler. With the help of her beau Derrick Andrews and Detective Jesse Whyte, Emma begins to learn the judge was not the straight arrow he appeared to be. As their investigation leads them in ever-widening circles, Emma will have to stop the killer from taking another life . . .
September 1899 – Emma’s Uncle Cornelius Vanderbilt has passed away and the family should all be in mourning but his son has his mind set on attending the Elizabethan fête on the opulent grounds of Wakehurst. His wife has asked Emma to go with them to help her keep her husband out of trouble. Emma really has no desire to attend but finally agrees to go.
Anglophile James Van Alen has gone all out for the festivities. An archery competition, a swordplay demonstration, a stage with actors doing scenes from Shakespeare’s works, and the main event is a joust. Emma chooses to wander the grounds instead of watching the joust. In her meanderings, she hears the Van Alen’s dogs barking like crazy. As she draws near, she sees a dead man on the ground with an arrow in his chest. She is shocked to recognize Judge Clayton Schuyler, one of the 400’s most influential members.
A new detective is assigned the case because Detective Whyte allowed Emma to “assist him” in his cases too many times. When a piece of evidence in the murder connects to a case Detective Whyte is investigating he, Emma, and her beau Derrick team up to solve both cases. Their investigation takes them in many directions and they learn that the judge had some significant secrets. Secrets that put a lot of people in danger including Emma.
I love traveling back in history with Alyssa Maxwell. In this story, Wakehurst, the Ochre Point “cottage” is a replica of Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, England, complete with English furnishings as well. It is owned by Anglophile James Van Alen. Again, the cover shows the “cottage” and Ms. Maxwell’s descriptions take us inside and all through the elaborate gardens. I appreciate the Author’s Note after the story is done where she gives historic details of the real people and places that are featured in the story.
All the core characters are very well-developed. Emma is a strong woman, independent and free-thinking. She receives something in the story that could change her life, but will she allow herself to use it? Nanny and Katie are sure to help her figure things out. Derrick’s mother still isn’t happy with the relationship he is building with Emma but he knows how to handle her. Detective Whyte’s professional life takes a bit of a shift but it doesn’t slow him down. He still works with Emma and Derrick and together they make a heck of an investigative team. The author’s descriptive style really brings all her characters to life.
Ms. Maxwell has plotted out a very intricate story. Emma found herself in very interesting places and she even gets caught once but she has a great explanation, for the immediate moment anyway. I admire her fortitude to find the truth no matter what. Her unique situation allows her to mix with the elite and their staff equally and she uses it to her advantage nicely to follow clues and gets the answers she needs. In the end, she does find herself in a dire straight and that sets up a very exciting showdown. And then, the final pages were heartwarming.
Murder at Wakehurst captures life in the Gilded Age with extraordinary characters and a richly detailed account of the time. Ms. Maxwell has encased her characters in a complex mystery that kept me guessing right up until the end. A fantastic addition to this series.
I have enjoyed this series from the start but I had fallen behind with my various illnesses over the last couple of years. I am determined to get caught up and be able to read Murder at the Elms when it tours with Great Escapes so that means I will be reading and reviewing Murder at Beacon Rock very soon.
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About the Author
Alyssa Maxwell is the author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She knew from a young age that she wanted to write novels. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles of all kinds drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she loves to watch BBC productions, sip tea in the afternoons, and delve into the past.
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.”