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A Death of No Importance

(Jane Prescott #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,596 ratings  ·  317 reviews
Through her exquisite prose, sharp observation and deft plotting, Mariah Fredericks invites us into the heart of a changing New York in her remarkable debut adult novel.

New York City, 1910. Invisible until she’s needed, Jane Prescott has perfected the art of serving as a ladies’ maid to the city’s upper echelons. When she takes up a position with the Benchley family, dism
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Minotaur Books
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  1,596 ratings  ·  317 reviews

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Meg Cabot
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love mysteries but finding one that really keeps you guessing is difficult these days. This one not only does that, but features a smart heroine who just happens to be living in NYC during one of its most interesting time periods (early 1900s)! The attention to historical detail - down to the flounces on the skirts - really sucked me in, and I actually cared about the characters. Can’t wait for more from Mariah!
Cindy Burnett
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

I really enjoyed A Death of No Importance. Set in New York City in the early part of the 1900’s, the book follows Jane Prescott, a lady’s maid to a wealthy family trying to ingratiate themselves into New York City high society. Her mistress, Charlotte Benchley, claims she is engaged to a wealthy and sought after bachelor who is subsequently murdered on the night that Charlotte believes their engagement will be announced. Jane works with an enterprising reporter, Michael Behan, to solve
I did not enjoy A DEATH OF NO IMPORTANCE nearly as much as I anticipated. Not written quite as tightly as I would have liked, the novel concerns a lady's maid named Jane Prescott who is quite observant.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Can't wait to read the second book
Karen KK
I received this from in exchange for a review.

"New York City, 1910. Invisible until she’s needed, Jane Prescott has perfected the art of serving as a ladies’ maid to the city’s upper echelons." Jane investigates the murder of playboy Norrie Newburg with the help of a handsome newspaper reporter.

This book was all over the place, chunky and blocky reading. There were several mentions of historical happenings in New York at that time: Shirtwaist Fire, women's vote, mining disasters,
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
In 1910, Jane Prescott took a job as ladies' maid for Charlotte Benchley, a nouveau riche young woman who was very anxious to become engaged to the playboy Norrie Newsome. Norrie wound up being murdered and the maid investigated the murder. Except for a touch of pedophilia, this could have been a Nancy Drew book. It definitely had a middle grade feel about it.

The hardest reviews for me to write are for books that don't leave any impression on me, positive or negative, and unfortunately that was
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a full 3.5 star and for my own enjoyment it was almost a 4 star. I only down rated it because of the length; it's overlong. (Jane Prescott's introduction as a character is quite more repetition than would be needed using a sharper focus on her personality quirks instead of just her long winded past and continuing "circumstances", IMHO.) Without that quality to verbose redundancy throughout the book, and the addition of two multi page segments near the ending of the book to bide copy coun ...more
The woman no one sees, but who witnesses everything, is the ideal person to solve a murder...

“Lady’s maid Jane Prescott works for the Benchleys, who have the money but not the sophistication to be part of elite society. When the Benchleys’ daughter Charlotte falls for Robert “Norrie” Newsome, the playboy heir to a mining fortune, drama ensues.

At the Christmas Eve ball Norrie’s parents reluctantly hold to announce his engagement to Charlotte, he’s found dead, his eyes gouged out. Charlotte, the
I really enjoyed this historical mystery set in early 1900s New York, and I hope it's the beginning of a series, because I'd love to read more like this. I love historical mysteries, which are usually about the upper classes. While it's fun to get lost in the glitz and glamor of another era, I do wonder about the lives of people who are rarely depicted in those books, or who are only there to prop up the plot, like the servants. So I was excited to read a mystery starring ladies' maid Jane Presc ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable mystery set in the 1900 NYC. The story is told from the perspective of the maid who sees everything. I liked it a lot and it kept me interested the entire book.
Riveting mystery. Moving story. Loved the main character! Talented narrator. Publishers Weekly wrote: “The novel’s voice, plotting, pace, characterization, and historical background are all expertly crafted.” And I agree!

(Trigger warning: crimes against children referred to, no gratuitous descriptions.)
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great period mystery told by lady's maid Jane Prescott. She is the one who does the investigation into a murder. The story flowed and the characters were well developed. The reader also learns a bit about the behind the scenes life in a wealthy household.
There was a line from Jane that said she had more stories to tell. I'm hoping that it's the author's way of telling us there may be another book in the works.
Jan 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of historical fiction, mystery, and suspense. You have no idea how happy I was to come upon this gem!

This story takes place in 1910s New York City. An elderly employee of Jane Prescott passed away and our charming lady's maid is on a lookout for a new job. And she lands great employment with Benchley "new money" family that recently relocated to New York City. Jane is being appointed as a lady's maid to Benchley's two young daughters: glamorous and spoiled Charlotte and shy and
Susan in NC
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent historical mystery debut - thanks for the recommendation, Barb! Jane is a wonderful protagonist, and the author creates fascinating characters around her, in this tale of a gruesome murder among New York’s social elite in 1910.

Jane was very interesting, because as a lady’s maid, particularly one who has worked for a member of the social elite in that most rigid of societies - Gilded Age New York - she has observed so many of the wealthy denizens without really being noticed. Good serva
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
In days gone by, household staff heard and saw much -- and Jane Prescott's new job as a ladies' maid in a nouveau riche NYC family in 1910 puts her in the perfect position to see, hear, and investigate. Jane is a terrific character with a strong voice. The mystery is solid and well-paced, with just the right amount of commentary on social problems of the era, which would have confronted an intelligent young woman in her position almost daily. I particularly enjoyed the use of a final present-day ...more
A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks takes readers back in time to New York City in May of 1910. Jane Prescott is a lady’s maid for the Benchley’s daughters, Louise and Charlotte. Charlotte is the more vivacious and fashionable of the girls. She sets out to capture Robert “Norrie” Newsome despite the rumors that he is practically engaged to Beatrice Tyler. In September, Charlotte tells her mother that Norrie has proposed, and it is decided to announce the event on Christmas Eve at the N ...more
Suzy Dominey
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
The introduction of characters and their possible guilt was very shallow and questions raised through the book were not dealt with.
Barb in Maryland
Very interesting historical mystery set among New York City’s high society families in the early 20th century.
The blurb gives a good idea of the basic plot, so I won’t bother recapping.
Things I really liked:
I loved Jane. So intelligent, compassionate—she is a great believer in fairness and is often disappointed when life isn’t fair. She is loyal and discrete and, I suspect, lonely. She is also politically naïve and trusting in authority.
I admired Anna Ardito, Jane’s one good friend and polar opp
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
in fact i give it 3.5/5 stars because it was quite a good historical whodunit - the ambience of the story set in early 20th century was well defined, and i liked Jane Prescott who is not your meek little lady's maid -
the plot was good, with some political background, and there was a twist I did not see coming -
my only regret is that i couldn't find the english version, but the french one was ok
Apr 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were elements of this story I found interesting in the portrayal of NYC in 1910. The main character was not believable for me, a maid who does not have the background or education to measure up to her actions and maneuvers in protecting the privileged in a murder investigation.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
A definite 3.5! Looking forward to the next entry in this new 1900s NYC mystery series.
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Jane is cool :). _
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a mystery until the very end. You will be caught off guard and even angry at times. I loved getting to know the main character, she was smart and spunky and everything you want in a main character.
If you like historical fiction with a little bit of a thriller flair, definitely give this one a try.
Iza Brekilien
I have a new addiction, I didn't expect to fall into it before the end of the year, but here it is : this novel was absolutely great ! Not world-time classic great, however it's historical mystery novel great.
The time period is so very interesting : a few years before the first world war, with anarchists, industrial revolution not far behind, with US "aristocracy" and those willing to enter it. There's barely a hint of romance, the characters are multi-dimensional and yes, you can see that the a
If you like compelling historical mysteries that portray social and class inequities, you might want to try Mariah Fredericks' A Death of No Importance. Set during the Gilded Age, the story includes mining disasters, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the execution of an immigrant, anarchism, and murder. And, yet, the author manages to vividly describe the excesses of the rich as the story is told by a lady's maid, an orphan who came from the lower class, and served the upper class.

Jane Presc
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
A well-plotted mystery, but ultimately a book that is quickly fading out of my memory (I am writing this review a few days after finishing it) and not one that made me want to read the next in the series.

There are some nice touches that set up for the series: the heroine, Jane, was abandoned as a child upon arrival in America and taken in by her uncle, who runs a house for former prostitutes; her best friend is an anarchist. Jane works as a maid; part of the cleverness of the plot was how the au
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the first 3/4 but the ending really ruined the dress for me. I didn't think the elephant story or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire story were necessary. I also thought the commentary on the poor got too heavy-handed by the end. It was clear that this is a set up for future novels. Some of those elements didn't work. They seemed too convenient or too cheesy. Namely the pharmacist plot.

(view spoiler)
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is Historical Fiction - Mystery and I liked this one. The MC, a maid named Jane, was a great character. I loved that when considering the era of this story, she remained smart and curious, but yet she was still respectful of others and her station. I also liked the mystery. I was eager to follow along to find out who did it.

I listened to the audio and it was beautifully done. So 4 stars.
Lauren Albert
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I didn't post that I was reading this since I know the author (Hi!). It's awkward when you do but don't know if you'll like it. Thank goodness she wrote a great mystery. I thought the motivations were complex and the reader is (rightfully) left torn.
Moe's Book Blog
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks is a historical fiction murder mystery set in New York City in 1910 involving one of high society's most affluent and notable families, the Benchleys.

This intriguing story is told by Jane Prescott, a ladies’ maid to the Benchley family, who understands the rules of high society, and is very discreet. When Charlotte, the youngest Benchley daughter, becomes engaged to the notorious and roguish playboy Norrie, son of the Newsome empire, all hell breaks
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Play Book Tag: A Death of No Importance - Fredericks - 3 stars 1 12 Apr 27, 2019 04:58PM  

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Mariah Fredericks is the author of several novels for teens. A Death of No Importance is her first mystery for adults. She lives with her husband and son in Jackson Heights, New York.

Other books in the series

Jane Prescott (3 books)
  • Death of a New American (Jane Prescott, #2)
  • Death of an American Beauty (Jane Prescott, #3)

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