Thursday, May 5, 2016

Book Review: A Gilded Grave by Shelley Freydont (Newport Gilded Age Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting characters, well plotted mystery
Cons: Mystery slowed down at times for historical details
The Bottom Line:
Dead maid at the ball
Intrigue among very rich
Travel back in time

Summer Season Opens with Murder

There is something about the very rich that fascinates.  I must admit that one of the things that drew me to A Gilded Grave was the chance to spend time with some extremely rich people in Newport, Rhode Island, during the 1890’s.

To be specific, this book is set in 1895, and the book stars Deanna Randolph, who is looking forward to her summer season in Newport, having had a mostly successful debut season in New York over the last few months.

Her first major ball of the season is in honor of Lord David Manchester and his sister Madeline.  The two are from Barbados, and they are in Newport to work out a deal with Deanna’s father and his business partners to sell them sugar from Barbados for their sugar refinery business here in America.

However, the night ends in tragedy when one of the host’s maids is found dead on the bottom of a nearby cliff.  The maid was friends with Deanna’s maid and the intended of Joe Ballard’s apprentice.  Joe is one of Deanna’s lifelong friends who was briefly Deanna’s intended.  With accusations flying, Deanna must reluctantly team up with Joe to find out who the killer really is.  Can the two work together to learn the truth?

The characters in this book are wonderful.  Joe has given up his family’s money, at least briefly, to follow his dream of inventing, more specifically to invent machines to help the family business.  Deanna is a strong and independent young woman, or at least as much as she can be for this time in history.  Even Deanna’s maid gets into the action quite a bit and proves to be a lot of fun.

I did feel the book was a bit too long.  While I always enjoy getting lost in another time and place, at times those details slowed things down.  Chopping about 50 pages would have helped keep things moving along at a brisker pace.  I did find the climax logical and satisfying, and I’m quite curious what life has next for our main characters.

I must say I enjoyed spending time with the extremely wealthy.  Since one of the main characters is a maid, we do get to see the great divide between the two classes at the time.  I think part of the reason I enjoyed living with the rich is I can only imagine ever living that way, so it’s a bit of a fantasy escape that I enjoy.

The book is narrated third person, and we get scenes from both Deanna and Joe’s perspectives.  This is mainly Deanna’s story, with two thirds to three quarters of the book told from her point of view, but the times we switched to Joe really did help the story unfold, and I truly enjoyed that.

So if you are looking for a trip back in time, A Gilded Grave is for you.  Savor it during your own summer season.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book hoping I would review it.


  1. I really enjoyed this one as well though I definitely agree that there were times it slowed down considerably. I had forgotten about seeing both the above and below stairs and how well Freydont pulled that off. I have the 2nd book in the series and am really excited about reading it!

    1. I will definitely be interested in seeing what you think of the second in the series.

  2. This sounds like a great read. Might have to find a copy!