In glittering Newport, Rhode Island, status is everything. But despite being a poorer relation to the venerable Vanderbilts, Emma Cross has shaped her own identity - as a reporter and a sleuth.
As the 19th century draws to a close, reporter Emma Cross is sent by the Newport Observer to cover an elite house party at Rough Point, a "cottage" owned by her distant cousin Frederick Vanderbilt that has been rented as an artist retreat. To her surprise, the illustrious guests include her estranged Bohemian parents - recently returned from Europe - as well as a variety of notable artists, including author Edith Wharton.
But when one of the artists is discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff, Rough Point becomes anything but a house of mirth. After a second murder, no one is above suspicion - including Emma's parents. As Newport police detective Jesse Whyte searches for a killer, Emma tries to draw her own conclusions - with the help of Mrs. Wharton. But with so many sketchy suspects, she'll need to canvas the crime scenes carefully, before the cunning culprit takes her out of the picture next....