Image of A Death of No Importance: A Novel (A Jane Prescott Novel)


Image of A Death of No Importance: A Novel (A Jane Prescott Novel)

Fredericks’ adult debut is a deliciously intriguing peek at 1910 New York — its upper crust scandals, the cry for social justice and the intersection of the two. Told with the perspective of hindsight, the honest and witty narration comes courtesy of crisply-drawn ladies’ maid Jane Prescott. Her ability to be present but not fully noticed lends itself to revelations that readers might not be privy to otherwise, and her looking-back reflections tease with just the right blend of frankness and secrecy. The mix of vivid characters represents a swath of cultural and economic diversity, and the atmospheric detail depicting New York is almost another player in the drama. A well-plotted mystery with a plucky amateur sleuth — and an ending that could promise more cases for Jane to solve in the future!

Jane Prescott knows that the ideal servant should be deft at remaining in the background until needed. As a ladies’ maid to the recently wealthy Benchley sisters, Jane aids their adjustment to the upper class and observes both Charlotte’s determination to marry well and Louise’s awkwardness. Everyone knows that society playboy Norrie Newsome will marry Bea Tyler, so the rumors of an impending engagement between Norrie and Charlotte send shockwaves through the echelon of their peers. When Norrie’s mutilated corpse is discovered by Jane at a Newsome fete, she can’t stay out of the investigation. Was his death the result of a lovers’ spat? Or perhaps vengeance for a devastating accident at his family’s mines? Is the murderer a scorned debutante or one of the anarchists plaguing industrial New York? (MINOTAUR, Apr., 288 pp., $24.99)
Reviewed by: 
Carrie Townsend