cover image THE GILDED CAGE


Troy Soos, . . Kensington, $23 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-57566-769-0

New York City in 1893 comes to vivid life in Soos's second engrossing historical (after 2001's Island of Tears) to feature Rebecca Davies, a child of privilege who's chosen to devote herself to financing and running a home for desperate women with nowhere else to turn, and her beau, Marshall Webb, a freelance reporter for Harper's Weekly who secretly pens dime novels. Davies is an especially sympathetic figure whose empathy for her charges is matched by a steely pragmatism. Two mysteries engage their attention after a young woman turns up at Davies's door, apparently the victim of arsenic poisoning, and Lyman Sinclair, the banker to whom Davies entrusted most of the home's funds, apparently kills himself amid rumors of investment chicanery. Davies enlists the help of Webb, who has been conducting an independent effort to expose the corruption of a post–Boss Tweed Tammany Hall. Webb uncovers a possible link between the banker's death and the omnipresent political machine that governs the city through voter fraud and multiple extortion and bribery schemes. While there are a number of suspects in Sinclair's death, including an acclaimed music hall performer and two of the city's wealthiest and most influential men, the anticlimactic solution is apt to disappoint crime fans. Although this entertaining, fast-paced novel doesn't probe the psychology of late-19th-century murderers as Caleb Carr does, it should appeal to much the same audience as Carr's. Agent, Meredith Bernstein. (Oct.)

FYI:Soos is also the author of Murder at Ebbets Field and other titles in the Mickey Rawlings baseball mysteries series.