BookBrowse Reviews A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Death of No Importance

A Mystery

by Mariah Fredericks

A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks X
A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2018, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2019, 288 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Natalie Vaynberg
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A murder mystery set in the heart of a changing turn of the century New York.

Bringing the reader deep into the intrigue and privilege of the most elite boudoirs, A Death of No Importance is a charming, fast-paced mystery set in turn-of-the century New York. Seen through the eyes and ears of an observant chamber maid, Jane Prescott, the murder of the city's most eligible bachelor shakes New York high society to its core. As Jane, determined to protect her mistress, digs deep into the shadowy corners of the most illustrious homes, she finds a mystery much more sinister than she imagined.

Whether you are a fan of mystery novels or not, A Death of No Importance is a highly engaging read. Jane is a delightful protagonist – brilliant and attentive, loyal and kind – and she finds friends and helpers everywhere she goes. She is a skillful guide to the elite homes and families she encounters. The story picks up quickly from the first page. The action is never-ending and each chapter ends with a suggestive hook, urging you to read on. And even though this technique becomes quickly predictable, it continues to entertain. The resolution is not quite obvious but the mystery itself is fairly straight-forward. The board is set and all the relevant players are in motion within the first fifty pages. There are many familiar tropes – a jilted lover, a newly risen socialite with something to prove, and a spoiled rich boy with many enemies. However, it is pleasurable to watch the layers peel back to reveal the truth – it is done with an almost mechanical precision, new details revealed at every turn.

In addition to this well-structured plot, Fredericks brings a bit of social commentary into her narrative. The stories of the rich are balanced, to some extent, with those of the struggling workers around them; on the outskirts of the story there is a band of anarchists, looking to strike and make themselves heard. There is also Jane's uncle, a reverend devoted to the care and rehabilitation of "fallen women." And Jane herself – devoted to her work, yet always wanting something more than a life of servitude – exemplifies the class struggles at play. While these side stories do not surface anything unknown or revolutionary, they do make for a more nuanced portrayal of the story's time and place.

A Death of No Importance is a simple, clean-cut mystery that yields easily to anyone in search of a satisfying read. A shrewd and exacting reader may find "holes" in the plot – for example, the facility with which everyone seems to open up, or the level of access a lady's maid seems to have to everyone and everything she seeks – but for those willing to suspend disbelief, this is a great way to spend a few hours and maybe even learn something about the New York of a different time.

Reviewed by Natalie Vaynberg

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in April 2018, and has been updated for the April 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Swimming Back to Trout River
    Swimming Back to Trout River
    by Linda Rui Feng
    Linda Rui Feng's first novel, Swimming Back to Trout River, is a powerful meditation on the ties ...
  • Book Jacket: The Unfit Heiress
    The Unfit Heiress
    by Audrey Farley
    During the American eugenics movement (see Beyond the Book), involuntary sterilization was used to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Daughters Of Smoke & Fire
    by Ava Homa
    Ava Homa's debut novel begins with an epigraph by Sherko Bekas, a Kurdish poet, the last lines of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Last Flight
    by Julie Clark
    Julie Clark's second novel, The Last Flight, is the tale of two women, each desperate to escape an ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Book of Lost Names
by Kristin Harmel
A heartrending novel of survival, inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Ariadne
    by Jennifer Saint

    A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

  • Book Jacket

    Everybody
    by Olivia Laing

    "Impassioned and provocative...[an] intensely moving, vital and artful book."
    —The Guardian

Who Said...

Men are more moral than they think...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

H I T Best P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.