Official Synopsis from Goodreads: The atmospheric, compelling follow-up to the stunning debut A Death of No Importance, featuring series character, Jane Prescott.
In 1912, as New York reels from the news of the Titanic disaster, ladies’ maid Jane Prescott travels to Long Island with the Benchley family. Their daughter Louise is to marry William Tyler, at their uncle and aunt’s mansion; the Tylers are a glamorous, storied couple, their past filled with travel and adventure. Now, Charles Tyler is known for putting down New York’s notorious Italian mafia, the Black Hand, and his wife Alva has settled into domestic life.
As the city visitors adjust to the rhythms of the household and plan Louise’s upcoming wedding, Jane quickly befriends the Tyler children’s nanny, Sofia—a young Italian-American woman. However, one unusually sultry spring night, Jane is woken by a scream from the nursery—and rushes in to find Sofia murdered, and the carefully locked window flung open.
The Tylers believe that this is an attempted kidnapping of their baby gone wrong—a warning from the criminal underworld to Charles Tyler. But Jane is asked to help with the investigation by her friend journalist Michael Behan, who knows that she is uniquely placed to see what other tensions may simmer just below the surface in this wealthy, secretive household. Was Sofia’s murder fall-out from the social tensions rife in New York, or could it be a much more personal crime?
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: 1912 New York City and Long Island
***I received an eARC copy of Death of a New American from the publisher, Minotaur Books, via NetGalley***
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Review: This historical mystery will have you talking! I loved it! Death of a New American by Mariah Fredericks is the second mystery in the Jane Prescott series. Set in early 1900s New York City, Jane is a no nonsense woman, employed as a ladies’ maid for the Benchley family. Jane is smart and practical, and sometimes she may come off as a bit too know-it-all, but she’s overall a great character to read, and one that is a believable sleuth. I like her relationship with the Benchleys, and truly enjoyed reading her interactions with them.
In book one of the series, A Death of No Importance, the mystery involved the murder of Charlotte Benchley’s fiancé. This time around, the mystery involves the other Benchley daughter, Louise, with a nanny tied to her fiance’s family found dead. With the murder being investigated as an attempted kidnapping with ties to the Black Hand, Jane senses something doesn’t add up, and looks into the murder of her new friend.
With plenty of red herrings, Death of a New American takes place right after the sinking of the Titanic, and takes us to bustling New York City and wealthy Long Island, and deals with the Black Hand, the women’s suffrage movement, and mental illness. I found this mystery to be powerful and strong, with an exceptional ending. There is a powerful scene set during a women’s suffrage march that was a cheering, uplifting moment that made me so thankful for those who paved the way for women being able to vote.
Just as in the first book of the series, I loved learning the motive behind the killing, and again, this is a powerful whydunit that demands further conversation. The Jane Prescott series is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical mystery series. The historical tidbits and setting are fascinating! This entry has a greatly atmospheric scene set in Keens Steakhouse, and the tragedy of the Titanic is felt throughout the book as well. If you want to be transported to 1910-era New York City, this is the book and series for you!
Bottom Line: An excellent historical mystery that brings up so much more than just murder and whodunit.