Cover image for Death of an American beauty : a novel
Title:
Death of an American beauty : a novel
ISBN:
9781250210883
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
viii, 259 pages ; 25 cm.
Summary:
Jane Prescott is taking a break from her duties as lady's maid for a week, and plans to begin it with attending the hottest and most scandalous show in town: the opening of an art exhibition, showcasing the cubists, that is shocking New York City. 1913 is also the fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation speech, and the city's great and good are determined to celebrate in style. Dolly Rutherford, heiress to the glamorous Rutherford's department store empire, has gathered her coterie of society ladies to put on a play-with Jane's employer Louise Tyler in the starring role as Lincoln himself. Jane is torn between helping the ladies with their costumes and enjoying her holiday. But fate decides she will do neither, when a woman is found murdered outside Jane's childhood home--a refuge for women run by her uncle. Deeply troubled as her uncle falls under suspicion and haunted by memories of a woman she once knew, Jane--with the help of old friends and new acquaintances, reporter Michael Behan and music hall pianist Leo Hirschfeld--is determined to discover who is who is making death into their own twisted art form. --
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Summary

Summary

Death of an American Beauty is the third in Mariah Fredericks's compelling series, set in Gilded Age New York, featuring Jane Prescott.

Jane Prescott is taking a break from her duties as lady's maid for a week, and plans to begin it with attending the hottest and most scandalous show in town: the opening of an art exhibition, showcasing the cubists, that is shocking New York City.

1913 is also the fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation speech, and the city's great and good are determined to celebrate in style. Dolly Rutherford, heiress to the glamorous Rutherford's department store empire, has gathered her coterie of society ladies to put on a play--with Jane's employer Louise Tyler in the starring role as Lincoln himself. Jane is torn between helping the ladies with their costumes and enjoying her holiday. But fate decides she will do neither, when a woman is found murdered outside Jane's childhood home--a refuge for women run by her uncle.

Deeply troubled as her uncle falls under suspicion and haunted by memories of a woman she once knew, Jane--with the help of old friends and new acquaintances, reporter Michael Behan and music hall pianist Leo Hirschfeld--is determined to discover who is making death into their own twisted art form.


Author Notes

Mariah Fredericks was born and raised in New York City, where she still lives with her family. She is the author of several YA novels. Death of an American Beauty is her third novel to feature ladies' maid Jane Prescott.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in 1913 Manhattan, Fredericks's engrossing third mystery featuring lady's maid Jane Prescott (after 2019's Death of a New American) focuses on the plight of prostitutes. The Rev. Tewin Prescott, Jane's socially progressive uncle, runs a refuge for former prostitutes on the Lower East Side. When a young woman who lives at the refuge is found murdered in an alley with one of her stockings missing, the protestors who continually harass the residents are quick to accuse Tewin of the murder, and the police are listening. But when a second woman, a department store employee and a former resident of Tewin's halfway house, is murdered and another trophy taken, Jane sees a connection to a similar assault that happened near the refuge years earlier. Jane sets out to locate the woman who survived that assault and perhaps find a killer. No matter that the rich historical detail overshadows the crime solving. Fredericks's portrait of the social disparities of early 20th century New York and of the appealing Jane make this a winner. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. (Apr.)


Kirkus Review

A lady's maid searches for a vicious killer.Much as she enjoys working for New York socialite Louise Tyler, whose easygoing nature allows a certain degree of amity between employer and employee, Jane Prescott (Death of a New American, 2019, etc.) is looking forward to her week off. She wants to enjoy some of the cultural delights Gilded Age New York has to offerparticularly the new, reputedly scandalous exhibition of cubist art at the Armory. She's even happy to be spending time with her only living relative, her sometimes-distant and prickly uncle, the Rev. Tewin Prescott, at the refuge he runs for former prostitutes. But her holiday is interrupted by two crises of unequal proportions, although pressed with equal urgency. Mrs. Tyler calls Jane in a panic because the American Beauty pageant sponsored by Rutherford's department store, the palace of consumption owned by George Rutherford, husband to Louise's good friend and fellow socialite Dolly, is imperiled by the abrupt departure of its seamstress. And the police suspect Jane's uncle of involvement in the murder of Sadie Ellis, a resident of the refuge. Buoyed by Fredericks' deft plotting and lucid prose, Jane handles each crisis with aplomb. The author's brisk timing even leaves room for a budding romance between Jane and a pianist with an eye for the ladies, a more complicated relationship with a married journalist, some hijinks at the Acme Caf, a dance hall owned by local gangster Chick Tricker, and a serious look at race relations in early-20th-century America.A welcome addition to the lady's-maid-cozy corner. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Fredericks' third Jane Prescott mystery (after Death of a New American, 2019) finds New York lady's maid Jane on vacation. It's hardly a restful one, however, as she takes on the thankless task of readying hopefuls for a swanky department store's beauty pageant. That chore must take a back seat, however, when a woman from Jane's uncle's refuge for former sex workers is found killed, her face mutilated. Everyone suspects the woman's former boyfriend, an abusive man she kept returning to, but Jane won't rest until she finds the real culprit, a process that uncovers much about the workings of Gilded Age New York, from what women who were not rich had to do to get ahead to the racist machinations of the police department. While the book can flag in the middle, an exciting ending and a charming character in Jane provide ample compensation. This is well worth recommending to patrons who liked the other books in the series as well as to those who are in the market for an Upstairs, Downstairs--tinged mystery.


Library Journal Review

Lady's maid Jane Prescott plans to spend her holiday attending a riot-prompting cubist exhibition in New York but fears she should be helping with a play commemorating the 50th anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, a society event starring her own employer. In the end, she does something entirely different. With the help of two friends, reporter Michael Behan and music hall pianist Leo Hirschfeld, she investigates a murder whose victim was found outside a home her uncle runs for women. Third in a series; A Death of No Importance was a 2018 LJ Best Book.