This mystery by Shelley Freydont takes place in 1895 among the extravagant mansions of Newport, Rhode Island's elite. It is Deanna Randolph's first summer season at Newport. She's excited to meet Lord David Manchester, the visiting Barbadian sugar magnate, and his beautiful sister, Madeline. But things get complicated when, at her very first ball, her friend's maid is found dead. At first it looks like the maid accidentally fell from the cliffs, but then the police conclude she was pushed. And Deanna is determined to help figure out who murdered the young maid and why.
I love books set during the Gilded Age, and the Newport setting of this one makes A Gilded Grave even more fun. Then there's Deanna Randolph and her maid, Elspeth; this fearless duo love to read dime novel detective stories at night, but they soon discover that real sleuthing is a little more dangerous than they thought, especially when a second maid ends up dead. I liked them. I also liked that Deanna is a bit of a tom boy who chafe's under the constraints that Newport society places on her as a "proper" young lady. She's smart and funny and very determined. Then there's Joe Ballard. His father and Deanna's are in the sugar business together, and at one time everyone thought he and Deanna would get married. But they didn't. And Deanna isn't sure if they're even friends any more. Though they once were. Their relationship is my favorite part of this novel, though the mystery itself is nicely complicated with more than one twist and turn. Freydont's writing is not only enjoyable, but entertaining, too. If I rated stories with stars, I'd give this one four out of five.