Source: This book was given to me by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Amateur sleuth Emily Cabot’s journey once again takes her to a world’s fair–the Paris Exposition of 1900. Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer is named the only female U. S. commissioner to the Exposition and enlists Emily’s services as her secretary. Their visit to the House of Worth for the fitting of a couture gown is interrupted by the theft of Mrs. Palmer’s famous pearl necklace. Before that crime can be solved, several young women meet untimely deaths and a member of the Palmer’s inner circle is accused of the crimes. As Emily races to clear the family name she encounters jealous society ladies, American heiresses seeking titled European husbands, and more luscious gowns and priceless jewels. Along the way, she takes refuge from the tumult at the country estate of Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt. In between her work and sleuthing, she is able to share the Art Nouveau delights of the Exposition, and the enduring pleasures of the City of Light with her family.
My Review: Emily Cabot is a social secretary for Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer for the Paris Exposition in 1900. While they are at the House of Worth for Bertha to be dress fitted, she realizes that Bertha’s pearl necklace has been stolen. Before Emily investigates the case for Bertha’s missing jewelry, she finds the body of the House of Worth’s hatmaker. Emily wonders if the two cases are connected. The prime suspect seems to be Bertha’s son, who behaves suspiciously from the beginning. Could Emily find evidence that Bertha’s son is innocent and find the real killer?
I really like Emily’s character. She seems to be observant and curious. However, in the beginning, she seems to be passive. Because she is on vacation, she is reluctant to investigate Bertha’s missing jewels. Once she finds the body of the hatmaker, she finally agrees to investigate the murder. I did find her to be a strong character. She is very independent and makes her own decisions. She also earns the respect of the French police. There were moments that she was blind to other people’s actions, but eventually she sees through their flaws. Thus, Emily is a character that readers can relate to and root for in an amatuer female sleuth.
Overall, this story was about friendship, secrets, family, and social class. I really liked how it portrays France’s elite. I also liked the cameos of some of the Impressionist painters, including Edgar Degas. I thought this book was meticulously researched. There were some details that bogged me down a bit, especially the descriptions of what every character wore. I thought that those details could have been trimmed down. I also thought that it took a while for the story to get going, and there were some unnecessary scenes. When it did take off, I found it hard to put down, and I thought the murder mystery was very clever. Thus, I recommend this book for fans of Karen Odden, Deanna Raybourn, and Susanna Calkins.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
About the Author:
Frances McNamara grew up in Boston, where her father served as Police Commissioner for ten years. She has degrees from Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges, and formerly worked as a librarian at the University of Chicago. When not working or writing she can be found sailing on the Charles River in Boston or beaching on Cape Cod.
For more information please visit Frances McNamara's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.
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Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, September 5
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at A Bookaholic Swede
Tuesday, September 6
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, September 7
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, September 8
Spotlight at What is That Book About
Friday, September 9
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Sunday, September 11
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Tuesday, September 13
Spotlight at To Read, or Not to Read
Wednesday, September 14
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Thursday, September 15
Review at Impressions In Ink
Friday, September 16
Guest Post & Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
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