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Death of an American Beauty    by Mariah Fredericks order for
Death of an American Beauty
by Mariah Fredericks
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Death of an American Beauty is third in Mariah Fredericks' mystery series set in Gilded Age New York and starring feisty lady's maid Jane Prescott, whose employer is Louise Tyler. Jane was raised by her uncle, the Reverend Tewin Prescott, who runs a refuge (once a brothel) for fallen women, to teach them skills that would allow safer professions.

Though Jane is on holiday as the story opens, Louise asks her to help with costumes for a play that society ladies are putting on, to honor the fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation speech. Soon, her time is torn between that and investigating a murder - Sadie Ellis, who had entered the refuge to escape her abusive boyfriend, is found dead just outside.

Complicating matters, the widow Pickett has organized a group of followers, the Purity Brigade, to harass anyone going in or out of the refuge. They soon accuse Jane's uncle of the killing and he refuses to account for himself to the police! While seeking to find the killer, Jane meets Leo Hirschfield, and the attraction is mutual.

Despite following several red herrings, Jane does eventually zero in on the murderer, with the reluctant help of someone from her childhood - and nearly becomes another victim. Though the mystery is an intriguing one, what I enjoyed most about Death of an American Beauty was its immersion in the Gilded Age, which Fredericks brought to vibrant life.

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