Cover Image: Death of a New American

Death of a New American

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Member Reviews

I picked this book up because it mentioned my ships name the late great Titanic. I thought that is what this book was going to be about so silly me requested it. 
Yes it does mention Titanic but not in the way you think. I was totally surprised with something different!
I still considered this a good read and I loved it for what it was but in a way I disappointed too if that makes sense.
I still recommend this book even though it wasn't my cup of tea so to speak.
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Enjoyed this book. Kept me interested all the way through. Would recommend to a fellow reader.  Love the cover.
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As was the case with A Death of No Importance, I’m impressed with Mariah Fredericks’ ability to take a plot line as old as the hills and make it into something that feels fresh and original. 

Death of A New American, like the preceding Jane Prescott novel, isn’t exactly an easy read. It’s atmospheric and charming and compelling and, for better or worse, also a little bit heartbreaking.

There’s a significant component of the conclusion/solve in this book that is strikingly similar to the solve in the first novel in the series. And in both cases, it felt awfully convenient. Fortunately, that is my lone complaint. I absolutely adore Jane and enjoy spending time in her world.
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I love  historical mystery series.  I was a little bit lost at the beginning because I hadn't read the first book, but luckily I was able to figure out what was going on as I read. Jane is a lady’s maid and is a strong woman of her world.  A murder has occurred and she feels compelled to figure it all out.  I enjoyed how the author included so much detail from this time period. That makes reading all the more enjoyable. 
Thanks to  NetGalley for providing me with this read in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Death of a New American is the second book in the Jane Prescott historical mystery series, after A Death of No Importance.  Jane is a ladies maid for a wealthy family (think Rockefeller) in early 20th Century New York.  While she enjoys working for the Benchley family a great deal, Jane does not romanticize or make excuses for them.  They have flaws just like any one else.
So far, both books in this series have done a great job of highlighting issues that seem modern to the reader but also fit with the period in the book.  The mysteries have been well done and the historical details well researched (without being too heavy handed).  Jane’s slow burn romance (if it is a romance?) with reporter Michael Behan is particularly enjoyable.
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Mariah Fredericks looks at crime, poor Italians and and upper class society in New York in the Gilded Age.  An Italian nursery maid is murdered in Death of a New American; Jane Prescott, lady's maid, is in the household taking care of her mistress Louise who is engaged to William, the nephew of the family.  Jane finds the dead maid and gets involved in finding out whodunit.  Was it the Black Hand, an Italian criminal organization?  Was it a disappointed maid's lover?  Was it a member of the family?  Jane is working with a reporter who thinks only the Italian connection matters.  But something does not fit.  Authentic period cozy.
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Often the second book in a series isn't as well written or as engaging as the first novel. This book is an exception. Death of a New American is a fantastic read that will keep you reading until the final page. The relationships Jane develops and the things she notices really set her apart from other heroines. While there is one death, the circumstances and the events that lead Jane to solving the mystery really keep the reader intrigued. It's like reading multiple stories in one. 

The only critique that I can offer this novel is that the main character has a lot of free time and leeway to do as she pleases. She also speaks her mind freely to her employers and their friends. I find that this may not be as historically correct as it should be. It can be a bit distracting as the thought "wow she's off on her own again?!" or "how can she have time off to do this?!" takes me out of the story and to real life while I'm reading. 

I am excited to see what lies next for Jane and I hope there are more novels to come.
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Jane Prescott is one of those characters you fall in love with quickly and by the end want to spend more time with her.  She is brave, a mixture of worldly with a touch of innocence remaining, and navigates the class structure with intelligence and grace.  Her own backstory is fascinating.  Louise Benchley is the young lady Jane serves as a ladies' maid.  Louise, being married in part for her money, starts as awkward and a push over, but by the end she has come into her own and gains some steel - which I wanted to cheer over.
  
Michael Behan, a journalist, is a mixed bag.  At times he seems unscrupulous to get a story, but at other times seems to want the truth. You might be tempted to think he would be a romantic interest for Jane, who often challenges him and his reporting, but that isn't likely.  Charles Tyler, uncle to the groom and guardian, is the police chief who is waging a war against the rising Italian mafia while also controversially embracing Italian immigrants and hiring several on his staff at work and home.  Charles' wife, Alva Tyler, had been a wild and free spirited society girl more at home on safari - until she had a children and settled down.  She is a character you like and yet wonder about simultaneously.  Sophia, the victim, was so well portrayed in her few scenes that you stand with Jane wanting to see justice done in her murder.

The rich and privileged Long Island mansion is the setting for most of the story with a few scenes in New York city.  All of which take the reader back in time to Little Italy of the city and the era's gilded glory with its tarnished realities.

Was Sofia letting a mafia hit-man or kidnapper in through an open window and got killed in the process?  Because that is the quick conclusion and the plot revolves around Jane seeing major problems with that scenario and searching for answers.  There are subplots of Charles Tyler and the Black Hand plus the nation recovering from the Titanic tragedy intermixed with the rampant prejudice against Italians and woman's suffrage.  All of which immerse the reader in the era.  Once I had read the first few chapters, I was hooked and I raced through the book.

The killer reveal was tearful and a shock as what happened dawns on you, with an added touch of flirtation with danger.  It will stay with me a long time and it was handled brilliantly for maximum effect. The finishing chapter was longer than most wrap-ups, but well worth it.

This book is a gem and I find myself wanting to go back and read the first, A Death of No Importance, in the series while I wait for the third to be published.  Even with the serious topics touched on in the book, there is a hilarious scene that sticks with me as much as the emotional killer reveal.  The writing style is smooth and flowing. I can't recommend this book highly enough!

Rating: Near Perfect - Couldn't put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.
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This is author Maria's Fredericks's second novel that is set in early 20th century New York.  I very much enjoyed it and look forward to the next entry in this historical mystery series..

The book begins just as news of the Titanic has made its way across the ocean.  Perhaps this is symbolic because in this is book there are metaphorical storms and  acts are undertaken to protect loved ones, just as happened on that doomed vessel.  An additional, and important, narrative centers on what it was like to be Italian American at a time when the Italians were not always welcomed and the Black Hand was something to be feared.  Finally, there are settings in town houses and on Long Island estates as well as on Mulberry Street; these highlight the difference between rich and poor, immigrants and those with longer histories in the country.

Our protagonist is Jane who is a ladies' maid to Louise.  Much as in Downton Abbey, Louise is engaged to marry William as she brings the money and he the family connections to an alliance.  Will their relationship survive? 

William has an uncle who has taken an interest in him for many years.  Uncle Charles offers his Long Island estate to the couple for their wedding.  However, before that can take place, the nanny to Charles and Alva's children is murdered.  Was it the Black Hand or did the murder spring from other motivations?  Of course, you will need to read the novel to find out.

I felt that the characters in Death of a New American had stories to tell and were well portrayed.  There was the obligatory twist in the plot and it was well done. If you enjoy historical mysteries, I encourage you to give this one a try.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this e galley in exchange for my honest review  I give this one four stars.
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I love this historical mystery series.  Jane is a lady’s maid and is a strong protagonist of her world.  A murder has occurred and will  she be able to sleuth her way through this crime? I like how the author included so much detail from this time period. I look forward to the third installment of this series. 
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Death of a New American, by Mariah Fredericks, is the second entry in a mystery series set in that gilded age between the turn of the century and WWI.  It features Jane Prescott, ladies’ maid to the very wealthy Louise Benchley, as the heroic sleuth.  While there is a bit of American Downton Abbey, this novel focuses light on historical realities that do not often appear in novels or film.  Hatred and marginalization of immigrants, specifically, Italians, is vividly detailed as well as the economic realities that gave rise to gangs and crime.  The position of women, both rich and poor, galvanize women to fight for the right to vote and speak their truths. Even wealthy men are constrained by the expectations of class and the determination to maintain reputations.  As tensions rise in the book’s characters, we see the bubbling of violence that is a harbinger of a war no one really expects.

All of this history is enrobed in a mystery that is heartbreaking in its evolution as well as its resolution.  The author is meticulous in her historical research and in building in twists and turns that left me surprised until the very end.  There is much to love in this book.  And yet, the characters did not ever fully engage me or grab my heart. I’m not sure why for I fully expect to follow the series.  

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Death of a New American is a great historical mystery with great characters. This book is well written and I enjoyed it.
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Charlotte is reading an article about the Titanic declaring they would not be invited to the best funerals Charlotte was supposed to be engaged until he was killed Louise says seems awful to have such big wedding and party after such tragedy. I like dialogue and descriptions but no interest in the characters
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The year seems to be moving perfectly for Jane. Her mistress is about to be married, and the only thing going on is the constant bickering of the mothers as they prepare for their children's wedding. Louise, however, is not as optimistic as her maid, and she is dreading the marriage, the arguing is wearing on her nerves, and the prospect of taking her place in society is daunting. 
But as they head off to William (Louise's fiance) uncles home, they are sure to find some rest and recuperation before the wedding.... or will they?
When the nanny is murdered, Jane finds herself drawn into trying to figure out what is going on, how to keep her mistress happy and still on target for getting married, and determined to solve the mystery. There are some things better left untouched, but Jane forges ahead anyway. With the help of a newspaper acquaintance, they dive into the murder of Sofia. 

This book kept me hooked the entire way through. I loved it! This is one book that you are going to want to add to your list to read now! The Death of A New American will give you some twists and turns and give you a few head-scratching moments along the way! A fabulous who-dun-it book!
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Another strong outing in the Jane Prescott series. The story begins right after the sinking of the Titanic. The Benchley’ s are heading to the Tyler home to finalize the plans for the wedding joining these families together. Unfortunately a murder will complicate this.
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If you have been following me for just about any amount of time, it’s pretty clear that I love historical mysteries. Obviously this is a huge genre with mystery novels coming out of every period to fit just about every interest.

So when I am looking for a new historical mystery, I want to read something that is either ‘new’ or different, or has an outstanding main character that  can relate to. When this series came up for review, I hadn’t heard a thing about it.

In fact I was actually kind of surprised that I hadn’t heard anything about it since it’s set at the turn of the century which is one of my favorite historical mystery periods.

Summary

In 1912, as New York reels from the news of the Titanic disaster, ladies’ maid Jane Prescott travels to Long Island with the Benchley family. Their daughter Louise is to marry William Tyler, at their uncle and aunt’s mansion; the Tylers are a glamorous, storied couple, their past filled with travel and adventure. Now, Charles Tyler is known for putting down New York’s notorious Italian mafia, the Black Hand, and his wife Alva has settled into domestic life.

As the city visitors adjust to the rhythms of the household, and plan Louise’s upcoming wedding, Jane quickly befriends the Tyler children’s nanny, Sofia—a young Italian-American woman. However, one unusually sultry spring night, Jane is woken by a scream from the nursery—and rushes in to find Sofia murdered, and the carefully locked window flung open.

The Tylers believe that this is an attempted kidnapping of their baby gone wrong; a warning from the criminal underworld to Charles Tyler. But Jane is asked to help with the investigation by her friend, journalist Michael Behan, who knows that she is uniquely placed to see what other tensions may simmer just below the surface in this wealthy, secretive household. Was Sofia’s murder fall-out from the social tensions rife in New York, or could it be a much more personal crime? (summary from Goodreads).

Review

So as I said, I am always looking for either new, refreshing approaches to historical mysteries, or I am looking for interesting characters. A lot of reviewers raved about Jane Prescott, especially after the first book in this series. So needless to say I was excited to see what all the fuss was about.

Immediately I could tell that Jane was going to be a fun character who was easy to relate to and unique in her own way. She is a lady’s maid and I love that she is kind of an ‘ordinary’ girl. In so many mystery series, the protagonist is more from the posh set rather than a maid or another ordinary person in the household. I noticed some other reviewers pointed this aspect out and I think it’s important to note that many fans love that she is ‘normal’ rather than from the upper crush of society.

While this is a second book in the series, I found it was easy to follow along with what was going on from the first book. The author gives you enough information to keep you in the loop, without giving away anything really from the first book.

I also liked that this book explored some of the darker sides on American history, with gangs and mafia influence of this time period. I thought it was well researched historically and I loved that there were enough red herrings and twists to keep me interested and reading until the very end.

If you are a fan of this period, or historical mysteries with a strong female amateur detective, then this series is not to be missed. Historical mystery fans will find a lot to love in Jane Prescott!
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I was given a ARC in exchange for a honest review. 


Mariah Fredericks has given us a historical mystery series that can give us years of reading without getting old. I love the way these stories involve New YOrk City into the action plus people from all social classes. Can't wait for more!
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Mariah Fredericks’s second Jane Prescott mystery, Death Of A New American, has a rich, layered, vivid backdrop: 1912 New York. Indeed, Fredericks’s vibrantly-rendered historical detail may be as immersive and compelling as her mystery and characters. Of the latter, her amateur sleuth, ladies maid Jane Prescott, is eminently sympathetic: intelligent, observant, and compassionate. Jane’s lowly social status allows her the freedom to fade into the background and take in the details of the wealthy, privileged, and as aristocratic as Americans can be, families she serves. Fredericks may write about the rich and powerful, but the moral core of her mystery lies with the people of the “downstairs”. Their lives, thanks to the historical context in which Fredericks situates them, will change as social, economic, and political tides sweep over early twentieth century New York.

Fredericks has penned a novel as richly conceived historically as it is domestically. When it opens, the papers are crying the news of the Titanic‘s sinking. On the domestic front, Jane is preparing a trip to the Long Island home of the Tylers, as her mistress, Louise Benchley, prepares to marry their nephew, William. Charles, William’s uncle, is the powerful, influential, and famous-for-fighting-the-emerging-Italian-NY mafia, police commissioner. But, who is the “new American” and how and why does she die?  

When Jane arrives at the Tylers’ home, Pleasant Meadows, she notes a strain in the family. Charles’s wife, Alva, is taxed by motherhood and still grieving an infant son’s loss. There’s a new baby, a chubby cherub, Freddy, and a daughter, Mabel, but they seem to spend their time with the beautiful, mysterious, newly-made-American nanny, Sofia Bernardi. Fredericks does a marvelous job of showing the bigotry and “othering” new Americans faced, in this case, Italians, and echoes present-day sentiments, in certain quarters, towards refugees and newly-arrived immigrants from Muslim countries. When you read her novel, you can’t help but think of these parallels. As has by now become obvious, the eponymous new American is Sofia and it is her murder, in an attempted kidnapping of baby Freddy, that provides the who and why dunnit as tackled by our intrepid, sympathetic Jane.

Into Jane’s amateur investigation walks journalist Michael Behan, less invested in justice for the oppressed than his own glory in scoring a scoop for his newspaper, the Herald. Behan and Jane’s relationship is a complicated one and obviously carries over from the first novel in the series. Behan is a bigot and the name-calling and negative opinions he expresses about Italians puts him in the “better not make him Jane’s significant other” and he-can’t-be-the-hero territory. Glad to see that Fredericks gives him a few redeeming moments, thanks to Jane’s tutelage in tolerance and understanding, but keeps him well out of Jane’s action after the novel’s first half. It is definitely Jane’s book; her ethic, compassion, and care make this a strong book and relegating Behan to the margins helps this along.

As quiet, unassuming, yet dogged in her pursuit of justice and truth, as Jane is, the sweep of history and the face of a demographically changing America elevate Fredericks’s novel. I particularly loved Jane’s friendship with Anna, her Marxist friend, as she campaigns for workers’ rights. (Fredericks even nods at the ILGWU, the now-defunct union that Mrs. Bates mère belonged to!) The social and political tensions that marked the era make for a thematically-intense narrative: Sofia the nanny’s murder becomes a commentary on how Americans view the newcomer, how immigrants bring their own troubled, fraught histories to America’s shores, and how perception and prejudice make for social and political conflict.

In the end, when Jane puts the puzzle pieces together to give Sofia, if not vindication, a modicum of justice, the who and why dunnit devolves to domestic drama. This was a letdown. The mystery’s resolution, however, occurs well before the novel’s conclusion. That conclusion, on the other hand, is magnificent, as Jane and her “downstairs” colleagues watch and then join the NYC Suffrage Parade of May 1912. Fredericks’s description of the parade is rendered in loving detail. It moved me to tears, as did Jane’s realization of the world of possibility it opened to women. I would urge you to read Death Of A New American for the mystery, the wonderful Jane, the sympathetic characters and even the negative but interesting ones, but mostly for Fredericks’s vision of women on the march for autonomy, a voice in the political arena, and feminist identity. With Miss Austen, who forged her own unique vision of what women could be and have, we say that Mariah Fredericks’s Death Of A New American offers “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma.

Mariah Frederick’s Death Of A New American is published by Minotaur Books. It was released on April 9th and may be found at your preferred vendors. I am grateful to Minotaur Books for an e-ARC, via Netgalley.
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Having read and enjoyed the first book in this series, A Death of No Importance, I knew I wanted to set aside a chunk of time to get lost in the world of Jane Prescott and 1912 New York. The time of the sinking of the Titanic and women's suffrage. Add to this the Black Hand Gang and anti immigrant, anti-Italian sentiment and there is a lot to deal with for Jane and the family who employs her. She is ladies maid to Charlotte Benchley, who was engaged in the previous book but those plans came to an ugly end when her fiance was murdered. While some in proper society would call off the upcoming wedding of her sister, Louise, their mother will have none of that - the wedding will happen. So, it's off to the Long Island estate of Charles Tyler, uncle to the groom, William Tyler. Charles Tyler is involved with the prosecution of the Black Hand Gang and there is fear that something might just follow him home. When the Italian nanny is found murdered in the nursery and the baby lying on the floor nearby, the police reach the conclusion that it was a botched kidnapping. Jane sees things differently and does her own investigating. As Jane is just a lady's maid, she is invisible and she is able to hear and see things that lead her to the killer.
Historical mysteries are one of my favorite genres and I hope that this series has a long run. The characters of Jane, Charlotte, Louise and Jane's friend, Michael, a reporter are very well drawn and the setting of time and place is wonderful. The writing is pitch perfect. If you enjoy Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey this series is one not to be missed. Both books can be read out of order with nothing lost to the story. I found the mystery very satisfying with great depth, plenty of twists and red herrings and the ending left me eager to read the next mystery with Jane and the Benchley family.
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This book is the second installment of the Jane Prescott historical mystery series by Mariah Fredericks.  I have not read the first book, but this one totally stood alone.  I don't doubt you will be intrigued and want to check out the first one.  I'm a fairly new fan of this genre, and it's excellent books like this that have made me one.  The mystery itself is excellent; however, it is details of the time period such as the sinking of the Titanic and the Women's Suffrage March in New York in 1912 that send this story to the top of the genre.

Jane Prescott is ladies' maid to Louise Benchley, who is to be married to William Tyler.  William is the nephew of Charles and Alva Tyler, an exciting, celebrated couple.  Charles is famous for triumphing over the Italian mafia.  At their Long Island home, Jane becomes friends with Sophia, the young Italian nanny to the Tyler children.  One night is punctuated by screams, and Sophia is discovered murdered.  Was it an attempted kidnapping of the youngest Tyler child?  Jane is contacted by her reporter acquaintance, MIchael Behan, for help with his investigation of the story.

I found all of the main characters intriguing, particularly Jane, Michael and Charles.  (Exactly what is up with the relationship between Jane and Michael?  I need to know more about that! )  Layers of the mystery are revealed, and all is not as it seems.  I found most of the book a good solid 4-star story; however, when all was revealed, it definitely grew to 5 stars.  Oh, the tears were running down my face!  I cannot wait to once again enter the world of Jane Prescott and early 20th Century New York!

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley.  I received no compensation for my review, and all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.
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