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Murder at Ochre Court

Murder at Ochre Court by Alyssa Maxwell Kensington Books Kensington Historical Fiction Pub Date 31 Jul 2018


At the turn of the century, few women had careers outside of service. Emma Cross, a poor relation of the Vanderbilt’s, has been trying to make her way as a reporter, but papers hire her for her society connections and her links to gossip. Society reporting is lucrative but far from what Emma wants for herself. Her return to Newport coincides with the society event of the season - Cleo Cooper-Smith’s coming out at Ochre Court. Emma plans to report on that, and rouse the opportunity to dig up information on Griggson, a wealthy builder with an uncertain past and links to a collapsed tenement.

When Cleo is electrocuted, Emma’s friend Dale is blamed for the accident. With the sheriff, Jesse, in the hospital, Emma starts gathering information. Cleo’s accident was clearly murder, but who would want to kill a young debutante? Is Cleo’s father complicit in Griggson’s wrongdoings? What happened to Cleo’s first fiancé, Oliver?

Murder at Ochre Court is much better than many of the turn of the century mysteries I’ve read. It does a wonderful job portraying the restrictions placed on women at the time, and the difficulty of cross class relationships. While some may call the time civilized, it’s clear that the civility shown to women was a thin veneer meant to keep them in their place. Even at the very beginning when Emma is speaking to Nelly Bly, she is told to find a rich husband who will support her endeavors. Murder at Ochre Court is a fascinating and well written historical mystery.

5 / 5

I received a copy of Murder at Ochre Court from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.

— Crittermom

Description In the summer of 1898, reporter Emma Cross investigates a shocking death among the bright lights of Newport's high society . . . After a disappointing year as a society columnist for the Herald and staying with her more well-heeled Vanderbilt relatives in New York City, Emma has returned to the salty air, glittering ocean vistas, and grand stately mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, more determined than ever to report on hard news. But for now she’s covering the social event of the season at Ochre Court, a coming-out ball designed to showcase Cleo Cooper-Smith, who will be literally on display, fittingly as Cleopatra, in an elaborate tableau vivant. Recently installed modern electricity will allow Miss Cooper-Smith to truly shine. But as the deb ascends to her place of honor, the ballroom is plunged into darkness. When the lights come back on, Cleo sits still on her throne, electrocuted to death. Quickly establishing that the wiring was tampered with, Emma now has a murder to investigate. And the array of eligible suspects could fill another ballroom—from a shady New York real estate developer to a neglected sister and the mother of a spurned suitor. As Emma begins to discover this crime has unseen connections to a nefarious network, she puts her own life at risk to shine a light on the dark motives behind a merciless murder.

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