Around Town

A Gilded Age Whodunit

A new book, Murder at Chateau sur Mer, mines Newport’s past for mystery and intrigue


Imagine walking into Chateau sur Mer, one of the Newport Mansions, only to find an intruder dead at the foot of the staircase. With her latest in her Gilded Newport Mysteries series – Murder at Chateau sur Mer – author Alyssa Maxwell takes her readers back in time to the late nineteenth century with reporter Emma Cross, who uncovers deception and secrets within Newport’s elite society.

A self-proclaimed fan of historical mysteries, Alyssa lived in Newport when she was first married and came to see the City by the Sea as an insider rather than a tourist. Now the author of two mystery series, Alyssa was just starting her writing career at the time; she decided that writing about the mansions, for many the crucial symbols of Newport, “when they were actually lived in by the families who built them would be especially compelling, and allow readers a glimpse into that gilded world,” she says. “Newport is in essence living history, with its beautifully maintained historic neighborhoods. My historical characters are as close to the way history paints them as I can keep them.”

The main focus of each of her Gilded Mysteries is the central mystery and the relationships between the characters. “My readers don’t want anything graphic, and I’m happy to oblige them in that,” says Alyssa. Many of her characters are women she’s found through historical research: “strong, independent women from the time period who broke through the ‘Gilded Cage.’”

Murder at Chateau sur Mer is currently available in hardcover, and another Gilded Newport Mystery, Murder at Ochre Court, is scheduled for release next year.