Gilded Newport Mysteries, a crime fiction film set in 1895, the age of Victorian elitism, the birth of bureaucratic espionage, suffocating corsets, and the rise of the women’s suffrage movement. Despite being a murder mystery, Gilded Newport Mysteries makes me wonder about how little has changed over the years. Though on the surface it seems the world has changed for the better, closeted chauvinists still run the world. Emma, an intellectual woman in an era where such traits were discouraged in women, finds herself frequently sidelined from crucial decision-making. This exclusion highlights the pervasive influence of gender bias, a theme also seen in the film Enola Holmes. The references to Arthur Conan Doyle within the story further highlight this connection.
What Is The Plot About?
Emma Vanderbilt-Cross is a budding journalist who writes for the women’s section columnist at a local newspaper in Newport, Rhode Island. While her parents are away in Europe selling paintings, Emma resides in Newport with her nanny and half-brother, Brady Cross. Despite her own talents, Emma’s connection to the wealthy Vanderbilt family brings her considerable acclaim from readers and attention from suitors in the elite class. Her reputation is further elevated by her interview with Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement. However, her achievements are often belittled by conservative men who claim to know what women want, viewing her accomplishments as insignificant. Emma’s reputation as a journalist grants her access to report on events at gatherings of the elite throughout the city. She is invited to her cousin Gertrude Vanderbilt’s coming-of-age ceremony to cover the events for her column. However, the glamorous evening takes a horrific turn when Alvin Goddard, the financial advisor to the Vanderbilts, is murdered and the Vanderbilts’ railway plans are stolen. Cornelius Vanderbilt points the finger at Brady, who is infamous as a troublemaker.
Despite Emma’s efforts to testify to her brother’s innocence, she is frequently sidelined by men who prefer she keep her head low and focus on writing about women’s issues. Later in the story, she is even fired from her job because her employer believes that associating her name with the murder case will deter readers. Even without evidence, the authorities decided to charge Brady with the crime at Cornelius Vanderbilt’s request. This prompts Emma and her detective friend, Jesse Whyte, to join forces to solve the crime and prove Brady’s innocence.
Who Are The Vanderbilts?
Gilded Newport Mysteries‘ plot, though a work of fiction, draws inspiration from real-life characters. The Vanderbilts are an actual American family with roots tracing back to the early Dutch settlers of the new world in the mid-1600s. However, it was Cornelius Vanderbilt who emerged as the progenitor of the Vanderbilt industrial dynasty, establishing it through his pivotal role in the railroad development and shipping industries. He was widely regarded as the richest man in America. In Gilded Newport Mysteries, Cornelius accuses Brady of Alvin Goddard’s murder, and the theft of their railway plans due to his presence in his office after Goddard’s murder. Emma’s half-brother, Cornelius, an elitist, regards Brady as an outsider, seeing him as a street dog rather than a member of the family.
Who Are Emma’s Suspects?
Emma and Jesse find themselves embroiled in a complex mystery due to the sheer number of guests present at the event. Emma’s initial suspicions are piqued by Neily Vanderbilt, Cornelius’s son, who is romantically involved with Grace Winslow, a member of the Winslow family. The Winslow-Vanderbilt family rivalry is a hot topic among the city’s residents. However, it is Neily’s sudden absence from the ceremony at the time of the murder, coupled with the discovery of the murder weapon—a polo mallet belonging to Neily—at the scene of the crime, that directs Emma’s attention toward him. Neily, however, asserts that he was with Grace during the time he was away from the venue. Emma eventually dismisses Neily as a potential suspect in the crime when she discovers him secretly meeting with Grace Winslow.
Her second suspect is Mr. Mason, the head butler at the Vanderbilt household. While searching for clues at the scene of the crime, Emma and Jesse discover a chain, which Emma links to Mr. Mason. She believes that Mason’s dismissal by Goddard could have been a motive for the crime. His absence at the venue at the time of the crime further raises suspicions. However, Nanny O’Neal dispels these suspicions, revealing that Mason was with her on the evening of the crime. Upon questioning, Mason explains that his dismissal was ordered by Goddard due to his presence in Vanderbilt’s office, where he was looking through documents. Mason clarifies that he was hoping to find documents that could help end the rivalry between the Vanderbilts and Winslows, thus assisting Neily’s relationship with Grace.
An attempt on Emma’s life draws her attention to Derrick Anderson’s suspicious behavior, given his enigmatic nature and his uncanny connection to other events. Derrick initially presents himself as a reporter, but when Emma discovers his true identity as Derrick Andrew, the son of a newspaper magnate, her suspicions deepen. After a second attack on Emma, during which Derrick comes to her rescue while trailing Neily, Emma confronts him about her suspicions. Derrick, in turn, confesses his true motives. He reveals that he came to Newport at the request of Rupert Halstock’s sister. Adelaide, Emma’s childhood best friend, is married to Rupert. She frequently complained to Derrick about Rupert’s illness, exacerbating his violent behavior towards her. Derrick further reveals that it is Adelaide who is poisoning her husband, causing his illness. This revelation finally directs Emma’s suspicions towards Adelaide.
Why Did Adelaide Kill Goddard And Rupert?
Following her meeting with Derrick, Emma’s nanny informs her about Rupert’s sudden death. At the Halstock residence, Adelaide claims that she killed Rupert in self-defense after she caught him discussing his motives for killing Goddard on the telephone. Emma, however, remains unconvinced by Adelaide’s testimony. Connecting the dots from various instances, she finally uncovers the railway plans. This confirms her suspicions about her friend. Adelaide confesses that Rupert was abusive to her, and she sought freedom from him. Out of desperation, she saw an opportunity to make money by selling Vanderbilt’s railway plans. While attempting to steal the plans during the ball, she is caught by Goddard, but the confrontation leads to Goddard falling off the balcony. When Rupert discovered the truth, Adelaide was forced to kill her husband as well. After her arrest, the coroner’s report on Rupert’s death confirms Derrick’s suspicions that she was indeed poisoning her husband, leading to his gradual sickness. Gilded Newport Mysteries brings a rather poignant and thought-provoking conclusion to the mystery: while murder is ethically and morally a crime, women had practically no rights back then. Adelaide, a young victim of domestic abuse, was left with no choice but to resort to committing a series of crimes for her freedom.