Thursday, July 30, 2015

Early Book Review: A Gilded Grave

A Gilded Grave (Newport Gilded Age)Author: Shelley Freydont
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Berkley

First in a new series from the author of the Celebration Bay mysteries

In 1895, at the height of the Gilded Age, Newport, Rhode Island, is the summer home of the social elite. Within the walls of their fabulous “cottages,” fortunes and reputations are made and lost. Competition for superiority is ruthless and so are the players.

During her first season, Deanna Randolph has the pleasure of attending a ball given in honor of Lord David Manchester, a Barbadian sugar magnate, and his sister, Madeline. The Manchesters are an immediate success—along with their exotic manservant known for his magical, fortune-telling talents.

But on the nearby cliffs, a young maid lies dead, her neck broken—and a member of one of the town’s most prestigious families is found kneeling over the body.

Joseph Ballard humiliated Deanna when he broke off their courtship at the end of last season. But while Joe may be a cad, Deanna doesn’t believe he’s a killer. Now reluctant allies, the two must navigate a world of glittering parties, fashionable tennis matches, and intriguing séances to find the murderer. But when their investigation leads them to Newport’s most powerful inner circles, they’re exposed to something far more dangerous than malicious gossip…

A young girl, dressed in a maid’s uniform, lay crumpled on the rocks, arms flung to the side, skirts twisted around her ankles, revealing only two small feet, clad in button-up shoes. Her head had fallen back, and a strand of loosened hair fell across her face.

But tonight, Deanna was afraid that evil was among them. And she wasn’t sure if good would have a chance.

“Do you think I would let you search alone? I’m going with you.”

Here lately I have been on a huge historical fiction/mystery kick and that seems like all I have been reading! However, I am not complaining; it is just what I have been craving lately. This new series by Shelley Freydont is sure to be one of my favorites; set during the gilded age, the characters and setting have a certain Downton Abbey feel, and you can never go wrong here. Our sleuth and main character, Deanna Randolph, was brave and intuitive; she goes against the grain a bit because she does not quite act like a young lady should in the late 1800’s. She is brainy and too smart and curious for her own good, but alas, this is just the reason why I was so drawn to her to begin with. Deanna is the first person to avidly try and solve the murders that take place in this book and is one of the only people that seem to genuinely care about the lives lost.

There are hints of romance in this book but mostly we are dealing with historical fiction and mystery. I felt that Freydont added just enough romance for our main characters to keep it interesting; this is of course going to be a series, so she has to keep us wondering a bit. After finishing this book, I cannot say that I am sure the two main characters will even end up together, which puts a nice twist on things. The murders were suspenseful and mysterious, just enough to keep you guessing. I had an idea of who might have committed the murders early on, but Freydont reveals plenty of characters that could have committed the crimes. It became harder and harder to decipher the more I learned about each person, which is the key to any truly good mystery!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Berkley in exchange for my honest review***

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