Murder at the Elms
Murder at the Elms (A Gilded Newport Mystery)
by Alyssa Maxwell
About Murder at the Elms
Murder at the Elms (A Gilded Newport Mystery)
Historical Cozy Mystery
11th in Series
Setting – Rhode Island
Kensington (August 22, 2023)
Hardcover : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1496736192
ISBN-13 : 978-1496736192
Digital ASIN : B0BNCLTC7P
As the nineteenth century comes to a close, the illustrious Vanderbilt family dominates Newport, Rhode Island, high society. But when murder arrives, reporter Emma Cross learns that sometimes the actions of the cream of society can curdle one’s blood in the latest installment of this bestselling cozy historical mystery series . . .
1901: Back from their honeymoon in Italy, Emma and Derrick are adapting to married life as they return to their duties at their jointly owned newspaper, the Newport Messenger. The Elms, coal baron Edward Berwind’s newly completed Bellevue Avenue estate, is newsworthy for two reasons: A modern mansion for the new century, it is one of the first homes in America to be wired for electricity with no backup power system, generated by coal from Berwind’s own mines. And their servants—with a single exception—have all gone on strike to protest their working conditions. Summarily dismissing and replacing his staff with cool and callous efficiency, Berwind throws a grand party to showcase the marvels of his new “cottage.”
Emma and Derrick are invited to the fete, which culminates not only in a fabulous musicale but an unforeseen tragedy—a chambermaid is found dead in the coal tunnel. In short order, it is also discovered that a guest’s diamond necklace is missing and a laborer has disappeared.
Detective Jesse Whyte entreats Emma and Derrick to help with the investigation and determine whether the murdered maid and stolen necklace are connected. As the dark deeds cast a shadow over the blazing mansion, it’s up to Emma to shine a light on the culprit . . .
About Alyssa Maxwell
Alyssa Maxwell is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She has worked in publishing as a reference book editor, ghost writer, and fiction editor, but knew from an early age that she wanted to be a fiction author. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain and Ireland fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband have make their home in South Florida. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the South Florida Fiction Writers.
Q&A With the Author: Alyssa Maxwell
What was your inspiration for writing this book?
More than any other Newport “cottage,” readers wrote to ask for a story set in the mansion called The Elms. I’ve come to believe it’s a favorite of a lot of visitors to Newport. I had to wait, however, because the house wasn’t completed until 1901. But I have been there numerous times through the years, to take both the house tour and the Servants’ Life tour, which teach about life above and below stairs. This created, in my mind, a perfect recipe for a murder mystery, especially when combined with the real-life servants’ strike that took place in 1902. I took creative license and set the strike in the summer of 1901, and highlighted the harsh differences and the power struggle between the economic classes at the time.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
As with all the books in the series, I especially enjoyed learning more about the house and its owners, Edward and Herminie Berwind. Unlike other members of society’s Four Hundred, neither were born to great wealth. Edward Berwind was the son of middle-class German immigrants, served in the navy, and built his coal-mining business with his brother and another investor, with the help of J.P. Morgan. He was rather rough around the edges compared to other society gentlemen. He and Herminie established a lavish yet very comfortable summer home at The Elms, which is why I believe so many visitors to Newport claim it as their favorite mansion.
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?
I’ve just finished up the next book in the Gilded Newport Mysteries, Murder at Vinland. This house interested me because of the use of Norse/Viking elements in its design, both inside and out, making it unique among the Newport Mansions. It was also initially built for and owned by a woman, Catherine Lorillard Wolfe, who never married, which is another unique circumstance about Vinland, as very few of Newport’s grand properties were owned by women outright. In tribute to this, I’ve made nearly all the secondary characters, including the victims and suspects, women. In the story, Vinland is now owned by Hamilton and Florence Twombly. Florence was the sister of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Several ladies who attended a fundraising luncheon at Vinland for the establishment of a Rhode Island Chapter of the Audubon Society fall ill from a mysterious, unidentifiable toxin, and because the suspects are all women and it being 1901, when propriety was of the utmost importance, the police seek Emma’s help in questioning them.
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
I plan to continue the Gilded Newport Mysteries, write another Lady & Lady’s Maid Mystery, and am also considering writing a related work of historical fiction. It might possible focus on a member of the Vanderbilt family, although at this point I don’t want to say more than that. I’ve been gathering research materials and considering different plot options, and looking forward to a new challenge.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Yes – I’d like to say thank you!! Because of the enthusiasm readers have shown for this series, there are now eleven books available and more to come. This is more than I ever dreamed possible when I started, and I consider myself very fortunate. Each email I receive, and each encouraging comment on Facebook and other social media, provide me with the confidence and incentive I need to keep these books coming!
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