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A Death of No Importance: A Mystery by…
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A Death of No Importance: A Mystery (edition 2018)

by Mariah Fredericks (Author), Stephanie Willis (Narrator), MacMillan Audio (Publisher)

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507337,704 (3.84)2
Member:EdGoldberg
Title:A Death of No Importance: A Mystery
Authors:Mariah Fredericks (Author)
Other authors:Stephanie Willis (Narrator), MacMillan Audio (Publisher)
Info:Macmillan Audio (2018)
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:murder, New York, High Society, nouveau rich, Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, mining disaters, Schylkill, 1910

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A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks

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In 1910, Jane Prescott is hired as ladies maid by the Benchley family. They are new money, and in need of someone to tend to the needs of their two daughters. Louise, the elder, is awkward and not a beauty. Charlotte, the younger, is a demanding beauty who does not see why she does not get her every wish granted. And right now, her wish is to marry Norrie Newsome, handsome scion of a family with older wealth. Never mind that he is all but engaged to a girl of an Old Money family. She claims he will announce *their* engagement at the Christmas ball. This plan goes south badly when Jane discovers Newsome dead downstairs on the night of the ball.

There are a lot of people with motives to hurt the Newsome family, ranging from family members, the possibly jilted fiancé, anarchists, people hurt by the family business… Jane sets about trying to find the culprit, with some help by an eager reporter, Michael Behan. There are enough red herrings to make a decent fish n’ chips. Jane is uniquely positioned by being a servant, the person who is ‘invisible’- when you’re a servant, the upper class people you’re serving ignore you totally and will say the damnedest things in front of you like you aren’t even there.

There is a lot going on in this novel. I thought it would be a fairly frothy story, full of dress descriptions and sparkling events. And it is. But it also gets into historical events like the anarchist movement, horrible working conditions for the working class that featured such delights as little children working in the mines which collapsed with them inside, child sex abuse, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, and more. The problem is that the historical bits aren’t worked well into the story. They sit out like sore thumbs, rather obviously put in to make the story more dramatic and less fluffy. This is the author’s first novel for adults; hopefully she’ll improve this aspect of her writing. And then there is a need to suspend disbelief on another aspect- no maid who was the ladies maid for two people, as well as running the house, would have the amount of time Jane finds for sleuthing. Four stars. ( )
  lauriebrown54 | Sep 20, 2018 |
A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks takes readers back in time to New York City in May of 1910. Jane Prescott is a lady’s maid for the Benchley’s daughters, Louise and Charlotte. Charlotte is the more vivacious and fashionable of the girls. She sets out to capture Robert “Norrie” Newsome despite the rumors that he is practically engaged to Beatrice Tyler. In September, Charlotte tells her mother that Norrie has proposed, and it is decided to announce the event on Christmas Eve at the Newsome Annual Christmas Eve Ball. When it is near time for the announcement, Jane goes looking for Charlotte and finds Norrie dead on the library floor. Inspector Thomas J. Blackburn is assigned the case and Charlotte finds herself a suspect. Jane with the aid of reporter, Michael Behan delves into Norrie’s life. There is a myriad of suspects who all had good motive to eliminate the victim. Join Jane Prescott as she sets out to catch a killer in A Death of No Importance.

A Death of No Importance had a good beginning that drew me into the story. After a while, though, the pace slowed down and the content was less captivating. The book became political with the author being on the side of the poor (the rich industrialist versus the working-class poor). We get detailed descriptions of the indulgences of the upper classes. The author tried to capture the time-period by including various historical happenings including the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (it was a devastating fire that killed 146 people—mostly immigrant women), Hull House, and the bombing at the LA Times Building They were not integrated into the story properly (felt like add-ins) and had nothing to do with the mystery. The murder mystery appears complex, but the solution was apparent. The book needed action and active investigating that would help move the book forward. The investigating that Jane can do is limited due to her gender and ability to leave her work (she does manage it at times though). The story is told from an older Jane Prescott (reliving her younger days). Jane is an observant main character whose eye for detail aids in her solving the case. A Death of No Importance had a disappointing ending (a big letdown). A Death of No Importance was not the right fit for me. ( )
  Kris_Anderson | Jun 8, 2018 |
In 1910, Jane Prescott took a job as ladies' maid for Charlotte Benchley, a nouveau riche young woman who was very anxious to become engaged to the playboy Norrie Newsome. Norrie wound up being murdered and the maid investigated the murder. Except for a touch of pedophilia, this could have been a Nancy Drew book. It definitely had a middle grade feel about it.

The hardest reviews for me to write are for books that don't leave any impression on me, positive or negative, and unfortunately that was the case with this book. For an historical mystery, the book was seriously lacking in any period feel. At the end of the book the author does throw in details of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the disgusting killing of an elephant (which I assume was true), but neither of these events had anything to do with the mystery. If she was aiming for adding some social commentary to the book, she missed the mark. The references just felt gratuitous. I did finish the book, mostly because it was short and I could listen to the audio book while I did chores, but I doubt that I would read this author again.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. ( )
  fhudnell | May 27, 2018 |
It is 1910. Much is going on in the world. Jane Prescott is a maid for the nouveau rich Benchleys. Charlotte, the younger daughter, just nabbed the handsome, old money, Robert Norrie Newsome, Jr. as a fiance, right from under Beatrice Tyler's nose. It was commonly assumed that Beatrice and Norrie would be married, so Charlotte's betrothal caused quite a stir.

The Newsomes were going to announce the engagement at their annual Christmas party but unfortunately Norrie was found bludgeoned to death in the home library. The possibilities of murderer are many. Charlotte and Beatrice? Anarchists--the Newsomes owned mines in which disasters occurred.

As a journalist is closing in on accusing Charlotte of the murder, Jane feels she must do what she can to help learn the truth, even if it means working with a scandal monger journalist.

Fredericks does a great job of describing early 1900s Manhattan and society, as well as bringing in the differences between the classes. Jane is a wonderful character. The setting and pace are great. This book is great for teens and adults. One of 2018's best books. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Apr 16, 2018 |
4.5 stars

I really enjoyed A Death of No Importance. Set in New York City in the early part of the 1900’s, the book follows Jane Prescott, a lady’s maid to a wealthy family trying to ingratiate themselves into New York City high society. Her mistress, Charlotte Benchley, claims she is engaged to a wealthy and sought after bachelor who is subsequently murdered on the night that Charlotte believes their engagement will be announced. Jane works with an enterprising reporter, Michael Behan, to solve the murder.

My favorite part of the book was Mariah Fredericks’ attention to detail with respect to both the characters and the setting. New York City comes alive as do the characters; Fredericks clearly did her research, and her efforts pay off significantly. My one small caveat is that the cover is terrible. Had I not had someone recommend this book to me, I would never have picked it up.

I highly recommend this entertaining read and hope there will be another book starring Jane Prescott. ( )
  cburnett5 | Apr 13, 2018 |
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Epigraph
In or about December, 1910, human character changed. - Virginia Woolf

You see? The whole damn world believes in dynamite. - J. B. McNamara, convicted in the 1910 bombing of the Los Angeles Times Building
Dedication
And finally, for my father
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I will tell it. I will tell it badly, forgetting things that are important and remembering things that never happened.
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Through her exquisite prose, sharp observation and deft plotting, Mariah Fredericks invites us into the heart of a changing New York in her remarkable debut adult novel.

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