Diamonds, and Deception by Rosemary Simpson delve into
the Gilded Age in New York during 1889. This historical mystery
has a female detective, Prudence MacKenzie, and her partner
ex-Pinkerton detective, Geoffrey Hunter, investigating the
stolen jewels from a necklace once owned by Marie Antoinette.
wanted to take Prudence and Geoffrey back into the upper echelon
of NY society. I put the story in December 1889 but referred
back to May 1887 when the jeweler Tiffany bought 1/3 of all
the French crown jewels auctioned off. I thought, what if
the diamonds of Marie Antoinette found its way into a gorgeous
necklace created by Tiffany and then it was stolen.”
The story begins after the arrival of Prudence's aunt, Lady
Gillian Rotherton, from London. She intends to chaperone her
niece Prudence through a New York social season to find a
suitable husband. One of society's biggest affairs is the
Assembly Ball, where her aunt hopes Prudence will meet a prospective
husband. Prudence agrees to go only if Geoffrey escorts her.
While there, Lady Rotherton determines that the stones in
the spectacular diamond waterfall necklace adorning the neck
of the wife of banker William De Vries are fake. To avoid
scandal, the banker employs the investigative firm of Prudence
and Geoffrey to discreetly recover the stolen diamonds pried
out of their settings. As they find people of interest and
pursue their elusive quarry, there is a string of mysterious
deaths related to the theft.
writing was so descriptive that readers feel that they were
actually in the Gilded Age of New York. The street conditions,
the social distinctions and interactions, the expectations
of women, the parties, the carriages, and much more came alive
with Simpson's writing style.
researched about the balls. The Assembly Balls were exclusive.
They were magnificent balls. I read the New York Times archives
describing the societal balls: who attended, what did they
wear, what was the starting time, what was the menu, and what
did they eat. The gambling places were like palaces. People
dropped an enormous amount of money. When I sent Prudence
and her aunt there, it was a very daring move. Only men went
except for the expensive ladies of the night or mistresses.
In addition, there were many dives in the slum area where
people gambled on everything and anything."
an unusually independent young woman in 1879 New York, is
from the upper echelon of society but abhors the insincerity
and snobbery part of it. While Prudence is a reluctant part
of the upper class, Geoffrey was a reluctant part of his Confederacy
past. Because she is fiercely independent and not interested
in marriage's limitations, she is struggling with feelings
of love for Geoffrey that may threaten her independence.
who enjoys historical fiction set in the Gilded Age is sure
to enjoy this one. In this book, crime was the focus of the
stories, while the characters took a backseat.