Death of an American Beauty

Written by Mariah Fredericks
Review by Valerie Adolph

Jane Prescott enjoys her duties as lady’s maid to Louise Tyler, a newly married New York society lady in 1913. The entertainments available to them in this Gilded Age were many and usually extravagant. Jane is able to take advantage of some of these while still spending her holidays at her uncle’s refuge for women trying to leave a life of prostitution.

When two women from the refuge are found mutilated and killed, with her uncle as the most likely suspect, Jane feels impelled to investigate. Her questions lead her back to the society matrons who are planning to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at Rutherford’s department store. But dangers await her, even in the world of high society matrons.

The author’s extensive research into the period and the place helps create immediacy, connecting the reader to Jane’s struggle to find the killer. She creates evocative scenes of both the fashionable elite in the opulent department store and the underbelly of the city with its frightened and abused women.