Newport is gilded alright. And never more than in Alyssa Maxwell’s Murder at Beechwood. We get to meet the Astors and the Vanderbilts and see how the 400 behave in the face of tragedy.
Emma Cross lives in a ramshackle old house that belonged to her aunt. She collects ‘strays’. The latest one is a fallen woman who Emma has taken under her wing. Her old nanny is fiercely protective. Her parents are off in Europe and her brother works in the city. Emma is a budding journalist on the society beat who wants to go mainstream. Her big advantage is that she has an in with the Vanderbilts, being related to them.
A newborn baby is left at Emma’s doorstep. A strange man is found murdered. Emma is pining for Derrick, her almost Beau and trying to ward off the advances of the local detective, a person she knows very well and grew up with.
Emma’s cousin is in love but the Vanderbilts don’t approve of his choice. Emma refuses to take sides. Meanwhile, there is a sailing accident and a rich man Virgil Monroe is missing. Suspicion falls on his brother and Derrick. Emma takes on the investigation, trying to subtly interrogate the high society members while trying to balance her personal life.
Murder at Beechwood dazzles with its mansions and uber rich lifestyles, but the veneer hides a lot of nasty business. the book turned out to be more gory than I thought. The story is well written, there are lots of characters to keep the reader on his toes, and the suspense is also well maintained. Sometimes you just wish there wasn’t so much killing.
Secrets seem to lie at the base of everything, and secrets are certainly a motive in the numerous crimes at the heart of Murder at Beechwood. Gilded it may be, but it is very bloody!