Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: In a Gilded Cage by Rhys Bowen (Molly Murphy #8)


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: A good blend of history, mystery, and strong characters
Cons: Mystery a tad slow to start due to historic detail
The Bottom Line:
A bit of a slow start
But soon pulled into the past
Another great book




Vassar Women in Danger

Trouble has followed Molly Murphy ever since she landed at Ellis Island in 1901.  Of course, it doesn't help that this Irish immigrant is attempting to build her life in New York City by being a woman detective in a dangerous time.  In a Gilded Cage is the eighth book chronicling her life.  This one picks up in the spring of 1903.

Molly has just recovered from a strain of the influenza epidemic that is sweeping the city.  But she doesn't let that stop her from joining good friends and neighbors Sid, Gus, and some of their Vassar friends in marching for women's suffrage on Easter Sunday.  While that effort ends with them in jail, it also provides Molly with two new clients.

First is Emily Boswell, a young woman left to fend for herself after her miserly uncle kicked her out.  Emily wants to know more about her dead parents.  Then Fanny Poindexter hires Molly to prove her husband is cheating on her.  Things are progressing on both cases when someone dies.  Was it a bad case of the flu or was it murder?

These books have always been a glimpse into life in New York City a century ago.  And they expertly transport us to that time.  We get details of life during that time and the historic events the nation was facing.  As a result, at times the plot can be a tad slow.  But as a lover of history, I eat up those details just as much as I do a clue or red herring.

Once the plot gets started here, the bigger historical background seems to fade a bit.  Instead, Molly finds herself looking specifically at women's roles at the time.  This plays out nicely with the on going series plot about her potential marriage to Captain Daniel Sullivan.  I liked how the two played out here.

The two plots trade off top billing quite nicely.  They weave in and out of each other, constantly moving forward without letting us forget about the other.  And it is a testament to how far Molly has come as an investigator that she solves both cases quite logically.  I loved seeing that.

Speaking of Molly, she is her normal independent self.  While she has learned to hold her tongue occasionally, she still has a spunk I just love.  The rest of the series cast continue to entertain as well, although one or two are almost becoming cameos at this point.  I still run hot and cold when it comes to the subject of Daniel.  I tend to start a book hating him but warm to him by the end.  That was the case again here.  Although I still haven't forgiven him for some of what he pulled early in the series, I don't hate him like I once did.

The book is filled with new characters, and all of them are equally well drawn.  They really did feel like real people by the time the book ended, which made some of the scenes emotionally rich.

In a Gilded Cage works well as a mystery or a historical novel.  If you like either genre, be sure to consider this series.

And you'll want to read the Molly Murphy Mysteries in order.

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