Murder at Kingscote

Kensington. (Gilded Newport, Bk. 8). Aug. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781496720733. $26. M
Eighth in the “Gilded Newport Mystery” series (following Murder at Crossways) finds Emma Cross uniquely positioned in Newport as an established local, a poorer relative of the Vanderbilts, an excellent sleuth, and newly appointed editor in chief of the Newport Messenger. While covering Newport’s first-ever automobile parade, complete with an obstacle course, she notes alcohol on the breath of young Philip King—just before he crashes off course, demolishing a wooden statue of a nanny pushing a baby in a pram. Later the same evening, at a dinner party thrown by Philip’s mother, Ella King, Philip makes a late drunken entrance shortly before the discovery of the Kings’ butler gruesomely pinned against a tree—by the same automobile Philip crashed earlier in the day. What seems a simple case turns into a series of knotty mysteries requiring perseverance and understanding of the intricacies of Newport politics: the moneyed families and the locals who serve them.
VERDICT In this delightful addition to the series, which would serve as a good introduction to newcomers, Maxwell’s focus on class and gender division is sharp and accomplished. Come for the late 19th-century historical detail; stay for the intrigue.
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