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I received an ARC of Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks in exchange for an honest review. It releases from Minotaur Books on 14 April 2020.
This is my first book by Fredericks, and I am happy to report I will definitely be looking forward to more from her.
Death of An American Beauty
Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks is the third book in the Jane Prescott historical mystery novels. Jane Prescott is a maid in 1910s New York City, which allows the books to cover an interesting cross section of social history.
While this is the third book in the series, I had no trouble slipping immediately into the story. Fredericks has a knack for catching you up without interrupting the forward flow of the current narrative.
History is Not Lost
Fredericks has a commanding mastery of history, and as a historian, I appreciate this. However, there were times the history interrupted the narrative. Again, as a historian, I didn’t mind this at all, but it may throw others from the story.
The historical tidbits Fredericks added were compelling and interesting. Seriously. I caught myself re-reading sections to commit to memory what was being relayed. But more than that, the topics discussed were ones that amplified the character of Jane. As this story is told in the first person, these are topics Jane must know herself. The facts related lend an air of sophistication and concern to Jane’s character.
As the story is told (in a small part) as Jane’s future versus Jane’s past during the 1910s, these historical bits really help to paint a satisfying picture of Jane. You like her because of the things she notices and learns.
If you’re familiar with this blog, you know I like complex characters. Complex characters abound in this book. From Jane as a maid to her uncle who runs a home for former prostitutes to the various and sundry characters Jane encounters along her journey as an amateur and accidental sleuth.
What helps the complexity of characters is Jane’s position as a maid. She’s not a socialite or debutante. She sees the unsavory bits of New York’s social history. Racism, discrimination, and prostitution are rampant in this book. A reader may find it frustrating that such perspectives prevent justice, but I found it terrily authentic for the time period.
I’ll touch on the plot as it was a refreshing take on this time period. Jane must help her employer, Mrs. Louise Tyler, fit women for the American Beauty pageant at Rutherford’s department store. The history of department stores in New York is a tumultuous topic wrought with sexual tension and changing social norms for women.
I love it!
But when a woman from the refuge is killed, the trail leads back to the department store, and Jane must discover who the murderer is before it’s too late.
How awesome is that?
I don’t read books about dogs for obvious reasons. So I like to mention the existence of possible trigger issues should you want to pick up this book.
Possible trigger issues in Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks include:
The last two issues play a big role in this story, and they can be hard to read. However, the presentation of these themes is terribly authentic, and I commend Fredericks’ grasp of history.
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If you like these books, you may also like Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks:
I’ll be putting together a post laster this year about historical mysteries, and I picked up this ARC to expand my knowledge of historical mystery writers. I’ve very glad I did as this was a delightful, intriguing read.
Now is the perfect time to get caught up on the series before this book releases on April 14, 2020.
Have You Read Death of an American Beauty by Mariah Fredericks?
If so, tell us what you thought of it in the comments, but please – no spoilers.