A Death of No Importance

Written by Mariah Fredericks
Review by Linda Harris Sittig

Set amidst the extravagance of 1910 New York City, where moneyed families lived in fear of scandal, this is a story of two deaths. One occurs within the wealthy Newsome family, whose fortune was built upon a tragedy of the less fortunate. The other death involves an immigrant father trying to exact retribution for the murder of his son. All action is told through the protagonist, Jane Prescott, a lady’s maid to the Benchleys, an upper-class elite family.

Jane sees to the day-to-day orderliness of the two Benchley daughters, Charlotte and Louise. But when Charlotte Benchley’s fiancé, Norrie Newsome, is gruesomely killed, Jane realizes that she is privy to certain details that might allow her to identify the murderer. The situation becomes more complex when a young newspaperman latches on to Jane for her supposed help, but all the while is trying to catch the scoop of the decade for himself.

This novel is told with exquisite details of the city and life among the rich and their hired help, and I felt drawn into the mayhem of early 20th-century New York City. Applauding the pluckiness of Jane Prescott, I did wonder how a girl from “below stairs” would have the savvy she did in solving the details of both deaths. Nevertheless, I heartily recommend this book.