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 offer—particularly 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 Café, 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.