A Gilded Death by Cecelia Tichi
source: free review copy from Stress Free Book Marketing
title: A Gilded Death
author: Cecelia Tichi
published: August 1, 2021
genre: historical mystery
first line: The air was sharp, and I drew my cloak tighter around my shoulders and peered down at the Newport harbor.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
A formal dinner in palatial, Gilded Age Newport stuns Val DeVere when her closest friend whispers a terrifying rumor. The friend’s ultra-rich auntie’s fatal heart attack at Mrs. Astor’s annual ball last winter was murder.
When the aunt’s reclusive daughter—and heir—succumbs to “heart failure,” Val and husband Roddy probe the deaths to shield their dear friend who is next in line to inherit the family fortune—and sudden death.
Society’s “odd couple,” Val and Roddy, a.k.a. Valentine and Roderick DeVere, blend his Old New York savvy and her mountain West vision to ask: Is Newport truly Society’s “place to take root in,” or a dear friend’s place to die?
A Gilded Death is the first in Cecelia Tichi’s Gilded Age series. The story begins in 1898 Newport RI and revolves around married couple Val and Roddy as they try to figure out whether or not a string of deaths and accidents involving a family of socialites is part of a larger plan.
Val’s good friend and socialite Cassie confides in her that her aunt who passed away last Winter at Mr. Astor’s ball was actually murdered. When Cassie’s cousin and next in line to the fortune dies next, it’s super suspicious especially because it seems like she was poisoned. Cassie is next in line to the Brush fortune and she now fears for her and her children’s lives. Val and Roddy, who is a lawyer, start to investigate further and end up hiring the Pinkertons to work incognito for Cassie so they can guard her.
Although the book started off a little slow for me, I still enjoyed it. Roddy and Val are likeable characters and I was interested in what they would discover about these deaths and accidents. Roddy makes drinks here and there such as The Tuxedo made with gin and sherry and a Hawaii cocktail made with whiskey and orange juice. As you read the ingredients are listed which was a nice touch should you want to make a drink featured in the book. Someone bakes a Robert E. Lee cake at one point which I found interesting. I have the recipe to that cake in civil war era recipes book I purchased, so it was a nice surprise seeing it mentioned in the story.
While I liked Val and Roddy and I enjoyed the storyline overall, I would have liked to have seen a little more character development with these two. I wanted to know more about them and their backgrounds, maybe that happens as the series continues. Aside from that small qualm, it was evident that the author did her research with her vivid descriptions of the time and location. I could envision the sights and sounds of 1890’s Rhode Island society with its dinners and clam bakes and walks by the beach as Roddy and Val try to figure out the mystery. I didn’t know who the culprit was until the author revealed it and it made sense.
The story all wraps up nicely while leaving it open for the next book in the series which takes place in New York. The author’s style of writing made this a cozy read for me as well. I enjoyed this one.
“The tide was changing, but the water was calm when Roddy and I set out in a dinghy from the yacht club landing. It was midmorning, and the sun shone behind fleecy clouds. The air was crisp. Once again, we sought the absolute privacy that ruled out the cottage where the walls had ears, and the Casino, Bailey’s Beach, the village, or a public park.”
P. 221, A Gilded Death by Cecelia Tichi
Special thanks to Stress Free Book Marketing for my review copy!
A fresh start for every new book, and author Tichi’s zest for America’s Gilded Age and its boldface names draws this seasoned writer to a crime fiction series while uncorking the country’s cocktail cultures on the printed (and ebook) page. Tichi digs deep into the Vanderbilt University research library to mine the late 1800-1900s history and customs of Society’s “Four Hundred,” its drinks, and the ways high-stakes crimes in its midst make for a gripping “Gilded” mystery series that rings true to the tumultuous era. The decades of America’s industrial titans and “Queens” of Society have loomed large in Tichi’s books for several years, and the titles track her recent projects:
1. Civic Passions: Seven Who Launched Progressive America (and What They Teach Us)
2. Jack London: A Writer’s Fight for a Better America
3. What Would Mrs. Astor Do? A Complete Guide to the Manners and Mores of the Gilded Age
4. Gilded Age Cocktails: History, Lore, and Recipes from the Golden Age
5. A Gilded Death (crime fiction)
6.. Jazz Age Cocktails: History, Lore, and Recipes from the Roaring Twenties.
COMING SOON IN THE ‘GILDED’ CRIME SERIES:
Murder, Murder, Murder in Gilded Central Park
A Fatal Gilded High Note
Cecelia is at work on a fourth in the series, “A Gilded Free Fall.” She enjoys membership and posting in Facebook’s The Gilded Age Society. You can read more about Cecelia by visiting https://cecebooks.com
Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My copy of A Gilded Death by Cecelia Tichi came via Stress Free Book Marketing in exchange for my honest thoughts.