Greetings. I’m Emma Cross. Perhaps we’ve met before, but just in case we haven’t had the pleasure, I’m a cousin several times removed from the Vanderbilt family, a great, great granddaughter of the first Cornelius, whom everyone called “The Commodore.” While I have none of the Commodore’s fortune, I did inherit a good bit of his determination, ambition, and a certain disregard for playing by the rules.
I’m also a Newporter born and raised, and from that I derive my keen sense of independence. To that end, I’ve been working as a society reporter for the Newport Observer. Perhaps you’ve read my Fancies and Fashions column? No? Well, never mind. It’s merely a means to an end. What I want is to be a real reporter, reporting on hard news the way Nellie Bly does, and prove my mettle in the world of journalism. Imagine my delight then, when I received orders from my editor to report on an artists’ retreat to be held at nearby Rough Point, the summer cottage of my relatives, Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt. They’ve decided they don’t much like Newport anymore (I’m at a loss to understand why), so they’ve taken to renting the place out. And these people, these artists from Europe, specifically asked for me to observe their activities over the next couple of weeks and do a write up for the Observer. Me! Finally—finally—my journalism skills were being noticed.
Upon my arrival, however, I found my equilibrium knocked completely askew by two unforeseen surprises, both in the form of people from my past. I confess I didn’t at first know how to react, and sentiments I’d been suppressing for years, with varying degrees of success, have become a tangle that further complicates my task.
Goodness, these artists! The group includes a choreographer, a stage director, an opera singer, a sculptor, a cellist, a writer, and a painter. To call them temperamental would be a gross understatement. They’re also egotistical, vindictive, secretive to the point of being downright deceitful—the list goes on. They call themselves friends, but from the very first conversation around the dining room table, I learned they are not only creative in their respective art forms, but in how they delight in tormenting each other.
At the same time, ominous undercurrents steal through the shadows of this very Gothic house, whispering of something else going on here besides simple artistic endeavors—some secret that followed them all the way from Europe. And now, one by one, they’re falling prey to a killer in ways that mimic their art . . . leaving me to wonder if more than secrets followed them from Europe, or if one of them is to blame. And now, with a storm raging over Aquidneck Island and making the roads impassable, I have no choice but to stay on and see this deadly predicament to its conclusion.
Murder At Rough Point is the fourth book in the Gilded Newport mystery series, published by Kensington, August 2016.
In glittering Newport, Rhode Island, at the close of the nineteenth century, status is everything. But despite being a poorer relation to the venerable Vanderbilts, Emma Cross has shaped her own identity—as a reporter and a sleuth.
Fancies and Fashion reporter Emma Cross is sent by the Newport Observer to cover an elite house party at Rough Point, the “cottage” owned by her distant cousin Frederick Vanderbilt, which has been rented as a retreat for artists. To her surprise, the illustrious guests include her estranged Bohemian parents—recently returned from Europe—as well as a variety of notable artists, including author Edith Wharton.
But when one of the artists—an English baronet—is discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff, Rough Point becomes anything but a house of mirth. After a second guest is found murdered, no one is above suspicion—including Emma’s parents.
Even as Newport police detective Jesse Whyte searches for a killer in their midst, Emma tries to draw her own conclusions—with the help of Mrs. Wharton. But with so many sketchy suspects, she’ll need to canvas the crime scenes carefully, before the cunning culprit takes her out of the picture next. . .
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About the author
Alyssa Maxwell is the author of the Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She lives in South Florida in the current year, but confesses to spending most of her time in the Victorian and post WWI eras. In addition to fantasizing about wearing Worth gowns and strolling the gardens of her manor house, she loves to watch BBC and other period productions and sip tea in the afternoons. She and her husband make their home in South Florida and are the proud parents of two beautiful twenty-something daughters. Visit her and find all her social media links at alyssamaxwell.com.
All comments are welcomed.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Murder At Rough Point. U.S. residents only, please. The giveaway will end September 6, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!