In a Gilded Cage (Molly Murphy Series #8)

In a Gilded Cage (Molly Murphy Series #8)

by Rhys Bowen

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From the author of In Farleigh Field...

Irish immigrant Molly Murphy and her New York City P.I. business are in the midst of a sweeping influenza epidemic and a fight for women's suffrage that lands her in jail. Her betrothed, Police Captain Daniel Sullivan, finds her, but he hardly has time to bail her out, what with Chinese gangs battling for control of a thriving opium trade. The only consolation Molly can take from her vexing afternoon in the clink is that it made her some new friends among the Vassar suffragists---and brought her a pair of new cases.

For the first, Emily Boswell is convinced her miserly uncle stole her inheritance and wants Molly to uncover the truth behind her parents' lives and deaths. Second, Emily's college roommate Fanny Poindexter wants Molly to find proof of her husband's philandering so that she can leave him without one red cent. But when Fanny dies and her husband claims she's a victim of the epidemic, it's more than Molly's conscience can take.

Rhys Bowen's Agatha and Anthony Award-winning historical series continues to breathe life into the past with its wit and charm and its complete sense of early-twentieth-century New York, which makes In a Gilded Cage her most accomplished mystery yet.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429934626
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/17/2009
Series: Molly Murphy Series , #8
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 40,676
File size: 305 KB

About the Author

Rhys Bowen's novels have received a remarkable number of awards, including the Anthony, Agatha, and Macavity Awards as well as the Bruce Alexander Historical Award and the Herodotus Award. She is also the author of In Farleigh Field, the Royal Spyness series and the Edgar Award-nominated Constable Evan Evans mysteries. Born in England, she now lives in San Rafael, California, with her husband.
Rhys Bowen is the author of the award-winning Molly Murphy and Constable Evans mysteries. Her novels have garnered an impressive array of awards and nominations, including the Anthony Award for her novel For the Love of Mike and the Agatha Award for Murphy’s Law. Her books have also won the Bruce Alexander Historical Award and the Herodotus Award, and have been shortlisted for the Edgar, the Agatha, the Macavity, the Barry, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She has also written Her Royal Spyness, a series about a minor royal in 1930s England, and she is the author of several short stories, including the Anthony Award–winning “Doppelganger.” Her story “Voodoo” was chosen to be part of the anthology of the best of 50 years of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Ms. Bowen was born in Bath, England, and worked as an announcer and studio manager for the BBC in London, before moving to Australia and then California. It was here she started writing children’s and young adult novels, and then moved on to mysteries with the Constable Evans novels. When not writing she loves to travel, sing, hike, play her Celtic harp, and entertain her grandchildren. She lives in San Rafael, California.

Read an Excerpt

In a Gilded Cage

By Rhys Bowen

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Rhys Bowen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-3462-6


It is a well-known fact that we Irish are prone to bouts of melancholy, even without the help of the bottle. I suppose it goes along with the Celtic temperament and long, wet winters. Anyway, I was experiencing such a bout myself as I trudged home through a rainstorm that was wetter and colder than anything I had experienced at home in Ireland. March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers — that was how I learned it at school in Ballykillin. Well, it was now the middle of April and the gale that was accompanying the rain was worse than anything we'd experienced in March. I would never understand the New York weather! One minute it could be sunny and springlike and suddenly the temperature would plunge thirty degrees and we'd be back in winter again.

We had endured a particularly long, cold winter, with snow well into March. The bleak conditions had produced all kinds of sicknesses and people had been dropping like flies as influenza of the nastiest kind had turned to pneumonia. Even I, usually known for my robust constitution, had succumbed and spent over a week with a raging fever that finally subsided, leaving me feeling weak and drained. It had been almost three weeks now and I had hardly left the house until my small detective agency, P. Riley and Associates (I now being sole proprietor and associate rolled into one), received a job offer I simply couldn't turn down. It was from Macy's new department store, at Thirty-fourth Street and Herald Square. They wanted me to look into a case of shoplifting that even their own store detectives had not managed to stop. Naturally I was thrilled and flattered, and I accepted immediately. I would have crawled from my deathbed for such an assignment. If I was successful, who knew where it might lead?

The weather had finally been springlike when I set off for work that morning, which was why I'd worn my light business two-piece and not thought to take a top-coat or a brolly. Both of which I was now regretting as I came out of Macy's to find that the temperature had plunged again and it was blowing a gale. Within seconds I was soaked to the skin, freezing cold, and thoroughly miserable.

I should have been feeling on top of the world. I'd just concluded another successful case. In the guise of a new counter assistant I had spotted the pilfered goods being smuggled out in the trash by one of Macy's own employees and then retrieved from the big trash bins by an accomplice. I had been handsomely rewarded for my services and was glowing with pride, dying to share my news with somebody when I stepped out of Macy's back door and into the gale.

I had hopped on a passing Broadway trolley and later regretted this move as well, as I had to walk home from Broadway with the rain driving straight into my face and one hand jamming my charming spring hat onto my head. By the time I was halfway home I was well and truly sorry for myself. I was still weak, of course. I was not usually the kind of person who wallowed in self-pity or thought of herself as a helpless female. But as I trudged onward I was overwhelmed with gloomy thoughts. I longed for home and family and someone to take care of me.

I suppose this wave of blackness and insecurity had something to do with my intended, Daniel Sullivan. We weren't officially betrothed yet, but we had definitely reached the stage of an understanding. And it was this that was making me unsettled and jittery.

Had my mother still been alive, she would have relished telling me that I was never satisfied. I suppose she was right — when Daniel had been in disgrace and on suspension from his position as captain of police, he had shown up on my doorstep every single day, and I had found myself wishing he'd be reinstated quickly, not just for his sake but for mine too. I found myself seriously wondering whether marriage and domestic bliss were what I wanted for myself.

But recently he had been reinstated under the new commissioner of police and since then I had scarcely seen him. He had popped in once while I was at the height of my sickness, expressed concern, and then fled, not to be seen again. So now I was filled with doubts: did this lack of attention mean that he had tired of me, or was he merely taking me for granted now that he had more interesting ways to spend his time? If I married him I'd have to come to terms with the fact that this was what life as a policeman's wife would be like. And how would I take to being the good little woman, sitting at home with my darning, waiting for him and worrying about him? Plenty of food for thought there. Never satisfied, I chided myself. Wants security but doesn't want to be tied down. Wants love but wants freedom. Wants ...

I never did get to the third want, as a great gust of wind swept off the Hudson and snatched my hat from my head. I gave a scream of despair and leaped after it. It was a new hat, my first extravagant purchase since my detective agency started to make money, and I wasn't about to see it disappear under the wheels of a passing wagon or hansom cab. I lifted my skirts and chased it in most undignified fashion to Fifth Avenue. Then a particularly violent gust caught it again and swept it out into the street just as I was about to pick it up. I didn't think twice as I ran after it. There was an angry honking and I was conscious of a low black shape hurtling toward me.

"Holy mother of God," I gasped as I flung myself to one side. The automobile screeched to a halt inches in front of my hat, which now lay in the mud.

"What the devil do you think you're doing," shouted an angry voice. "You could have gotten yourself killed."

"I'm sorry," I began, then my mouth dropped open as the gentleman removed his driving goggles and I recognized him at the same moment he recognized me. "Daniel!" I exclaimed.

"Molly, what a damned stupid thing to do," he snapped. "These machines go fast, you know. And they don't stop on a dime. They're not like horses."

"I said I was sorry," I snapped back, feeling foolish now as a crowd gathered. "The wind took my hat and I wasn't about to lose it." As I said this I stepped gingerly into the mud and retrieved the hat, which was rain-soaked and definitely the worse for wear.

"Climb up," Daniel reached across to open the door for me, "and I'll drive you home. You look as if you've been dragged through a hedge backward."

"Thank you for the compliment, kind sir," I retorted, and was about to say I'd rather walk. But common sense won out, of course, and I dutifully climbed up to sit beside Daniel in the automobile.

"What were you doing out in this rain without an umbrella?" Daniel said, still glaring at me angrily. "You have no business being out at all on a day like this. You've been seriously ill, Molly."

"I was feeling better and, anyway, I had an assignment," I said. "It was too good to turn down. And if you want to know, when I left home at seven this morning the sky was blue. And believe me, I've regretted the decision to wear my spring clothes every moment of the last half hour."

Daniel looked at my angry face, with my hair plastered to my cheeks and drops running freely down my nose, and started to laugh. "I shouldn't laugh, I know." He attempted to stop smiling. "But you really do look like the orphan of the storm. Come here. Let me kiss that little wet nose."

He pulled me toward him and kissed the tip of my nose, then put his hand under my chin and repeated the process on my lips. His mouth was warm against mine and I found myself climbing down just a little from my high horse.

"Right, let's get you home and out of those wet clothes before you catch pneumonia," Daniel said. "I have to be back at headquarters within the hour, though."

He released the brake and put his foot on the accelerator pedal. The machine responded by coughing, bucking like a wild bronco, and then dying. Daniel muttered a curse under his breath and stepped down into the storm. "Now I've got to start the blasted thing again," he said. I watched while he took out the crank, went around to the front of the vehicle, and cranked several times before the contraption coughed and sprang to life. Daniel hopped in smartly before it could stall again and we were off. I glanced at him and started to laugh. "Now who looks like the orphan of the storm?" I said triumphantly.

In a minute or so we had pulled up outside my little house in Patchin Place. It is a street some might describe as an alley, but I think of it as a charming backwater in Greenwich Village. Miraculously the rain chose the same moment to stop, and a patch of blue appeared between the dark storm clouds. Daniel climbed down and came around to assist me. I opened the door, put on the kettle, and went to change out of my wet clothes. There wasn't much to be done about my sodden hair but at least the rest of me looked dry and respectable as I came downstairs again.

"Sometimes I despair of you," Daniel said. "Sit down. I'll make the tea."

He took the kettle from the hob and filled the teapot. "You don't have any brandy or rum to put into it, I suppose?"

"I don't," I said. "I live a very frugal life, as you well know."

He smiled. "Pity. Well, at least this will be hot and sweet. Better than nothing." He poured me a cup. "Get that down you, woman." He looked at me with fond exasperation. "You haven't an ounce of common sense in your body, have you? When you're not risking your life by chasing murderers you're risking it by not taking care of your health. This is not an ordinary influenza, you know. I can't tell you how many funeral processions I've witnessed in the past weeks. One of our own men, a strapping lad of twenty-five, went down with it and was dead within three days. And yet you go running around in a storm when you should still be in bed."

"I couldn't turn it down, Daniel," I said. "It was Macy's department store. They were offering a handsome fee and it was a case their own store detective hadn't managed to crack."

"And were you successful?"

"I was. They thought they had a clever shoplifter, but it turned out to be a conspiracy of their own employees — a counter assistant who dropped small items into a passing trash bin and another accomplice who retrieved the items from the trash. I was lucky enough to spot a bottle of perfume disappearing from a counter."

"Good for you," Daniel said. "Now let's hope you live to enjoy the spoils."

"I'm feeling much better," I said. "Or at least I was when I set out this morning. And I can't say you've seemed overly concerned about the state of my health until now. You took one look at my fevered brow and beat a hasty retreat, never to be seen again."

Daniel grimaced. "Yes, I know. I'm sorry about that."

"I understand that gentlemen have an aversion to being around sickness."

"No, it wasn't that, I assure you. I was most concerned about you."

"So concerned that I've not seen you in two weeks and had to throw myself in front of your automobile to get your attention."

He managed a grin. "Actually I've been on a case that has kept me busy day and night. I've hardly even had a chance to sleep."

"What kind of case is it?" I took a long swig of hot tea and felt the warmth going through my body. "Let me know if I can be of help."

Daniel smiled in a way that I took as patronizing. "My dear girl, you know I can't discuss a criminal case with you, and I certainly wouldn't let you help me."

"You don't think I'm any good as a detective?" I asked.

"I think you're very competent in your own way," he said cautiously, "but I have to play by the rules, and besides, I try to keep you well away from murders of any sort. So you stick to your kind of investigations and I'll stick to mine."

"Don't be so damned patronizing." I flung the tea towel in his direction.

"My, we are testy, aren't we?" He laughed. "And I wasn't intending to be patronizing. I'm glad that your business is going well, but you know my feelings. I'd be much happier if you didn't have to work and especially if you didn't have to put yourself in harm's way. Now that I'm back on the job, we can make proper plans for the future. I'm saving up for a house, Molly."

"You haven't asked me to marry you yet," I reminded him.

"I intend to do it properly, at the right moment," he said.

"And you don't know that I'll say yes."

Those alarming blue eyes flashed. "No, I don't know that, but I'm hopeful. At least you're now seeing the reality of what life with me will be like. Odd hours. Coming and going. Calls in the middle of the night, and times when you'll see nothing of me for days on end."

"You make it sound so delightful. It's a wonder I don't accept you on the spot," I retorted, and he chuckled.

"I know I've been neglecting you recently," he said. "I'll make it up to you when this case is successfully concluded, I promise."

"You must get Easter off, surely? Why don't we walk in the Easter Parade? I've always wanted to do that."

"The Easter Parade? Oh come, Molly. That is for the nouveaux riches wanting to show off their expensive hats, and I'm afraid that sodden chapeau of yours wouldn't be able to compete."

"I don't wish to compete. I just want to experience things that New Yorkers do," I said. "And I'd like a chance to stroll up the avenue with my beau on my arm for once."

"I wish we could, but the answer is no, I don't get Easter off. Not while people are killing each other all over the lower portion of Manhattan." He drained his teacup and stood up. "Speaking of which, I have to go, I'm afraid. I'm expected at headquarters. Good-bye, my sweet. Take care of yourself, please. No more walking out in the rain until you are completely recovered." He came over to me, kissed me on the forehead, and was out of the front door before I could even respond. I went to the door after him and watched him working furiously to crank that machine to life.

"You should stick to horses, they're easier to start," I called after him.

He looked up and grinned. "This is an experiment. The commissioner of police wants to find out if automobiles might be useful in police work. So far I'm not impressed." He gave another mighty jerk as he said this and the machine sputtered into action. With that he leaped onto the seat, waved, and reversed down Patchin Place.


As the automobile chugged away from Patchin Place, the front door opposite me opened and my neighbor Sid's face peered out. "Hello, Molly. What was that infernal noise we just heard?"

"Daniel driving an automobile," I said. "He rescued me from the rain and drove me home."

"Come on over and have a glass of wine," Sid said. "We've got exciting news to share."

I needed no second urging to join her. My neighbors Elena Goldfarb and Augusta Walcott, usually known by their irreverent nicknames Sid and Gus, never failed to bring joy into my life. They were generous to a fault and always experimenting with new foods and cultural experiences, making each visit to their home an adventure. The fact that their own choice of lifestyle was not a universally accepted one was neither here nor there.

Sid ushered me into the drawing room with a flourish.

Gus was sitting in one of the armchairs beside a roaring fire, a glass of red wine in her hand and a black lace shawl, hung with jet beads, around her shoulders. In contrast Sid was wearing baggy trousers that looked as if they'd come from a Turkish harem. I scarcely noticed their strange manner of dress any longer, although I could see that it might appear startling to strangers.

Gus looked up. "Why, you've found Molly. How clever of you, just when we needed her. And did you discover what the infernal noise was?" she asked.

"It was Molly's Captain Sullivan, driving an automobile. But he delivered Molly from the rain so is to be pardoned on this occasion, one feels."

"What were you doing out in the rain to start with?" Gus frowned at me. "You are supposed to be staying in bed and recuperating. You've been quite ill, you know."

"I know, and I would have been much worse if you two hadn't looked after me so well. But I had a job to do at Macy's department store and the weather this morning seemed quite balmy, so off I went without an umbrella or top-coat. Luckily the wind blew my hat in front of Daniel's automobile, so he motored me home."

"Horrid contraptions, automobiles," Gus said. "They'll never catch on, you mark my words. Think how noisy the city would become if everyone owned one. Gus and I think that flight is the transportation of the future. We should all have personal hot air balloons and drift serenely through the clouds."


Excerpted from In a Gilded Cage by Rhys Bowen. Copyright © 2009 Rhys Bowen. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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“Delightful…Bowen does a splendid job of capturing the flavor of early 20th-century New York and bringing to life its warm and human inhabitants.”

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In a Gilded Cage (Molly Murphy Series #8) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Darsey_spudnick More than 1 year ago
Rhys Bowen has done it again! She's created yet another great Molly Murphy mystery that I have devoured in less than 2 days! Its that good. Rhys' attention to detail means she captures the spirit of turn of the century New York so successfully that you are simply transported. If you love historical mysteries, you can't get any better than this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoy this author and this series. I always smile when I read about Molly's adventures.
DP51 More than 1 year ago
There hasn't been a bad book that was written by Rhys Bowen. All of the books I've read by her are totally great. The historical background and Molly's personality are a delight to all. Loved the book and am looking forward to the next one.
waldo21 More than 1 year ago
Perhaps my thoroughly Irish background influences my enjoyment of Miss Murphy or maybe I just enjoy a nicely written story with some serious topics introduced engagingly. In either case I've read every book in this series and will continue to do so as Rhys Bowen creates them.
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corglacier7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another turn 'round old New York with Molly Murphy in this eighth entry in the series finds the intrepid immigrant PI looking into a case involving the suspicious death of a young lady involved in a women's suffrage march during the Easter Parade. A tragic death, the official story reads, from a sudden bout of influenza--not too uncommon in those days, especially not during an epidemic of it striking the city. But then more members of the womens' circle soon fall victim, and Miss Murphy smells a rat...Of course, murder and mayhem aren't the only troubles on her plate. Having patched things up with her on-again off-again beau, Daniel Sullivan, who's been reinstated to his former status as Captain in the NYPD, the two settle into a less sharp relationship. The question of "Will they or won't they?" has apparently been resolved, but tension still exists as the happy couple experience their share of conflict. A grand romance still doesn't mean that two people can't clash over various aspects of their two lives coming together, and Molly and Daniel continue to stubbornly disagree over aspects of their mutual future. It's a nice touch to see that the removal of their former external romantic obstacles doesn't mean settling into a cloyingly perfect state of things between them.I do like the aspect that since they met in "Murphy's Law", the first book of the series, Molly typically doesn't happen to be involved in Daniel's police cases like we see with many couples in mysteries, conveniently forcing the two of them to interact and work together. They both maintain separate investigations and careers, but particularly now in "In a Gilded Cage", the two seem to discover some common ground in their mutual solving of cases, which may raise the possibility of lending ideas and fresh perspective to each other in the future. Daniel himself has held some definite interest in the last few books. Initially a cocky, glib young detective--a bit of a raffish Gilded Age bad boy--recent losses and experiences have taken their toll, though he hasn't entirely turned his ways. Although we unfortunately don't get his point of view, glimpses of a young man taking stock of his life, and perhaps settling into a greater maturity, are there. As he rather seriously tells Molly in this volume, after all the bad times they've been through recently, he wants to look forward to a life with her. His concern for her frequent daredevil antics still retains some of the chauvinistic condescension native to the men of the era that we've seen previously when the two have discussed the issue, but perhaps due to his own recent experiences, it also seems to ring with a note of genuine concern that after losing so much, he might lose the person he loves most. The issue remains unresolved at the end, but I'm interested to see what happens, and whether or not with a new depth of honesty developing between them, Molly admits the truth about certain events from the period of Daniel's professional disgrace that she's been concealing from him.Molly is an engaging character in that despite her amateur status and lack of credentials, she persists in forging her own path, carving out her own little piece of the American dream. She's got a sharp mind and a lot of common sense, but even that doesn't guarantee success when, as a young woman loitering around the streets on a stakeout during an investigation, she's likely to be mistaken for a prostitute and hauled off to jail! And as a recent immigrant and a non-professional, we see a New York of bygone days, and the crimes and ways of the era in fresh perspective right along with her, the sights and sounds and people new to both Molly and the reader.The story is extremely rich in history, weaving several threads of issues and events contemporary to the times into the tale. Missionaries and the Boxer Rebellion feature in one of Molly's cases, for example. But a large aspect is the largely unregulated medicine and remed
Scrabblenut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Private investigator Molly Murphy gets involved in searching for her new friend Emily's family background. The 1918 flu epidemic in New York City is ongoing, and some mysterious poisoning cases come to light. A good story.
NewsieQ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Molly Murphy meets a group of Vassar graduates while walking for women¿s suffrage in New York¿s Easter Parade. Soon her detective agency has two new clients from among them. One wants her to help find out the truth of her parentage; the other wants proof her husband has been unfaithful. When one of them dies, Molly doubts the cause was a particularly virulent flu that is sweeping the country, as the woman¿s doctor suspects.On the romantic front, Molly¿s relationship with police detective Daniel Sullivan is going along nicely¿except for the fact that Daniel disapproves of Molly¿s putting herself in danger in her job. (It doesn¿t help that he finds himself bailing her out of jail.) But our young immigrant heroine has courage and a feminist fever. She doesn¿t plan to give up her intelligence and ambition just to marry the man of her dreams ¿ as so many of the Vassar grads did. As usual, Rhys Bowen illuminates the world in which women lived in the early 20th Century while, at the same time, telling a terrific story. It¿s no wonder that this series has earned just about every major mystery-writing award. Its polished prose, great characters and realistic setting make for a top-notch historical mystery and a most enjoyable read.
pennykaplan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Intrepid detective and Irish immigrant Molly Murphy fraternizes with the privileged 400 in New York City in 1918, as she investigates the mysterious deaths of young society matrons, and tries to determine the family history of young Emily. Along the way she frets about how she will maintain her independence once married to her sweetheart, police captain Daniel Sullivan.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
In 1903 New York City, Molly is working on two cases - one tracking down information on an orphan's parents, the other trying to get proof on a cheating husband. When one of her clients turns up dead, Molly really has her hands full. These books are a wonderful trip back in time. There is a strong sense of place and time. But the mystery is strong and the characters grow in every book.
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