A SPLENDID DEBUT NOVEL
(Saturday, August 9, 2014)
Reviewer: Mina's Bookshelf
"I care not for riches, and do not miss them since only cleverness prevails in the end."
A delightful and harmonious concoction of vividly portrayed Gilded Age milieu and well thought-out murder mystery plot. Theme, voice, and pace flow on a trail of red herrings with a balance that was as graceful as unexpectedly transfixing for a debut novel. Based on real historical figures and narrated through the outsider's perspective of Emma Cross, an acute observer treading the fine line that separates the upper crust of society from its barely tolerated bourgeois relatives, Murder At The Breakers evokes the sumptuous charm of that by-gone era with its wealth, its splendid mansions, and high society scandals hidden behind a veil of primness and apparent respectability.
Newport, Rhode Island, 1895
Vanderbilt blood runs through Emmaline Cross' veins, but she belongs to the less illustrious side of the family: the twenty-five year old spinster was born and raised a Newporter -- a salty and sturdy 'bluestocking'. Definitely not on the market for a tycoon husband. Emma won't compromise her independence to be the wife of a wealthy man and have her life mapped out in an endless series of balls and regattas. More similar to her bold and eccentric Aunt Sadie, she refuses to be part of the gilded prison that traps Aunt Alice, wife of business magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. A reporter for the society column of the Newport Observer, and with her artistic parents expatriated on the other side of the Atlantic, Emma writes for a living and resides with a nanny and a maid at Gull Manor, a quaint house boldly perched on the ocean. On the night of her cousin Gertrude's coming-out ball at The Breakers, Uncle Cornelius' financial secretary is found dead in one of the rooms of the Vanderbilt summer mansion. All the evidence collected by the police on the murder scene points to Emma's half-brother Brady Gale, a good-natured young man who can hardly keep himself out of troubles. Although hailing from two of the most respectable families of the Island, Stuart Braden Gale IV has seen the inside of the Newport jail nearly as often as the worst scoundrel in town -- just the perfect scapegoat for a crime that may have been committed by some unsuspected and more titled members of the good society. With the help of the enigmatic fellow reporter Derrick Andrews, Emma will discover the true culprit, unveiling, at the same time, the shocking extravagancies and the surprising frailties of one of the most iconic and powerful American dynasties.
In the usual fashion of most cozy mystery novels, romance plays a part in the narrative -- a marginal one, actually. It's an intriguing plus that entices without crossing over into romantic suspense. Nonetheless, the chemistry between Emma and the mysterious Derrick adds zest to the storyline and helps reveal the protagonist's inner world and motivations. Alyssa Maxwell deftly strikes the romantic chord, creating, with its open-ended tone, a narrative bridge between this first episode and its sequel, due in October. Emma and Derrick have been thrust into a maelstrom of events too fierce not to spark a flame worthy of being reignited in future installments: I'll be looking forward to Murder At Marble House with great anticipation.
Murder at the Breakers
(Wednesday, April 9, 2014)
A Murder at the Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell
Wanted to read this book because I am very local to this town. I've yet to visit this museum of a house, maybe this year.
Love banter between the woman, Emmaline Cross and her brother, Brady and how he finds himself always in a mess and she is always there to pick up the pieces.
He is a playboy and she works for the local paper writing for the society pages and is always invited to the best of the parties. Loved hearing of all of their everyday problems-just like regular people. Controversies of financial ruin, gambling, yachting to name a few of the happenings.
Love that the story follows the same streets and places we visit today in the city. When the murder occurs she must help solve it to clear her relative. She fancies a man who combine forces to help one another in each of their missions.
So many people but easy to keep track of and there is an excerpt at the end for the next book in the series-can't wait!
I received this book from The Kennsington Books in exchange for my honest review.