From the author of In Farleigh Field...
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.
It's Easter Sunday 1918, and Irish immigrant Molly Murphy has agreed to march down Fifth Avenue with the sign-wielding suffragettes from Vassara civil act of protest that lands her in jail. Molly's betrothed, Police Captain Daniel Sullivan, manages to spring her from the clink, though his hands are full dealing with Chinese opium gangs. But as soon as she's free, Molly marches straight into trouble again. Two of the Vassar alumni need Molly's help as a private investigator. One believes her uncle is cheating her out of an inheritance; the other suspects her husband is cheating with other women. And when one of the clients diespresumably from influenza, which is sweeping the cityMolly takes to the streets once more. Not to win the right for women to vote, but to reveal the wrongs of some very evil men…
About the Author
Rhys Bowen is the author of the award-winning Molly Murphy and Constable Evans mysteries and In Farleigh Field. 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
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. Iwould 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 ser vices 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 her-self 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 .ed, 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 free