When ladies’ maid Jane Prescott goes with the Benchley family to a Long Island estate to oversee the approaching wedding of daughter Louise Benchley, she expects the usual domestic dramas—but is shocked when a nanny at the estate is murdered.
Jane is an astute and shrewd observer, and the news of 1912, especially the sinking of the Titanic, is on everyone’s mind. But the press is also filled with news of the so-called Black Hand, the Italian crime syndicate. Leading the fight against this group is Deputy Police Commissioner Charles Tyler, who, with his glamorous wife, Alva, was already a press darling for his glamorous worldwide travels. Now Alva is a mother and oversees life at their Long Island estate, where their nephew, William, is to marry Louise. Once there, Jane befriends the Tylers' young Italian nanny, Sofia, but soon after their meeting, Sofia is found murdered. Was this retribution from the Black Hand? As Jane discusses the case with her journalist friend, Michael Behan, she begins to have doubts as to the killer and the motive behind the murder. Fredericks, who introduced Prescott in A Death of No Importance (2018), has obviously done her research about the period but sometimes seems to create scenes just to prove this. Otherwise, the plot moves along at a dull but leisurely pace to its unsurprising conclusion.
Fredericks' heroine has an acerbic wit that occasionally flashes, but it’s hard to sustain interest in this effort stocked with mainly stock characters.