With the dawn of the twentieth century on the horizon, the fortunes of the venerable Vanderbilt family still shine brightly in the glittering high society of Newport, Rhode Island. But when a potential scandal strikes, the Vanderbilts turn to cousin and society page reporter Emma Cross to solve a murder and a disappearance. . .
Responding to a frantic call on her newfangled telephone from her eighteen-year-old cousin, Consuelo Vanderbilt, Emma Cross arrives at the Marble House mansion and learns the cause of her distress--Consuelo's mother, Alva, is forcing her into marriage with the Duke of Marlborough. Her mother has even called in a fortune teller to assure Consuelo of a happy future.
But the future is short-lived for the fortune teller, who is found dead by her crystal ball, strangled with a silk scarf. Standing above her is one of the Vanderbilts' maids, who is promptly taken into police custody. After the frenzy has died down, Consuelo is nowhere to be found. At Alva's request, Emma must employ her sleuthing skills to determine if the vanishing Vanderbilt has eloped with the beau of her choice--or if her disappearance may be directly connected to the murder. . .
Emma Cross, a shirttail relative of the Vanderbilts, finds herself at the center of a potential scandal in this solid follow-up to Maxwell's Murder at the Breakers. When Emma's beautiful 18-year-old cousin, Consuelo Vanderbilt, disappears immediately after a murder at Marble House, one of the summer "cottages" of the super-rich in Newport, R.I., Consuelo's domineering mother, Alva, presses Emma to find her before the Duke of Marlborough arrives to ask for Consuelo's hand in marriage. Did Consuelo run off willingly? Or was she kidnapped? Either way, Emma is pledged to secrecy and has little to go on as her search for answers leads her far from the comforts of upper-class Newport into increasingly dangerous places. The arrest of a Vanderbilt servant doesn't stop the murders in a mystery whose secrets may be too big to hide. Maxwell again deftly weaves fictional and real-life characters into her story.