Saturday, April 13, 2019
Death of a New American by Mariah Fredericks
It's 1912. The headlines are about the sinking of the Titanic and the upcoming march for women's suffrage. But, Jane has little time to spend on headlines. The Benchley family is heading to Long Island, to the estate of Charles Tyler. William Tyler, a poorer relative, is marrying Louise Benchley, and Jane's accompanying the nervous bride-to-be. While William is described as "kind", everyone knows of the heroic Charles Tyler, who heads up a task force to put down the Italian mafia, the Black Hand. That's one reason Jane is surprised to see Sofia, an Italian nanny, for the Tyler children. And, Charles Tyler's wife, Alva, doesn't seem at all pleased with the nanny.
The calm, capable Jane befriends Charles Tyler's young daughter, Mabel, so Mabel runs to her in the middle of the night. She's heard her baby brother screaming, and knows Sofia would not have left him. Jane finds Sofia's body, and the window to the nursery opened, but young Frederick is there and unharmed. The family story is that Sofia must have been working with the Black Hand to kidnap Frederick. Jane doesn't believe the story, and Mr. Benchley doesn't seem satisfied either. Despite Charles Tyler's protests, Benchley asks Jane to work with reporter Michael Behan to investigate and find the truth.
The summary will have to suffice so I don't reveal more about the surprising ending. However, this book is so topical as it deals with suspicion and fear of new immigrants, and the roles and expectations of women. Perhaps you'll be as moved as I was as Jane observes the parade of suffragettes, remembering the women's marches of today. Mariah Fredericks does an excellent job combining history with contemporary feelings.
Mariah Fredericks' website is www.mariahfredericksbooks.com
Death of a New American by Mariah Fredericks. Minotaur, 2019. ISBN 9781250152992 (hardcover), 304p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.