An excerpt of The Family Way by Rhys Bowen, volume 12 of the Molly Murphy mystery series set in New York City in the 1900s (available March 5, 2013).
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Molly Murphy—now Molly Sullivan—is a year into her marriage, expecting her first child, and confined to the life of a housewife. So when a trip to the post office brings a letter addressed to her old detective agency asking her to locate a missing Irish serving maid, Molly figures it couldn’t hurt to at least ask around, despite her promise to give up her old career as a detective. On the same day, Molly learns that five babies have been kidnapped in the past month.
Refusing to let Molly help with the kidnapping investigation, her husband sends her away to spend the summer with his mother. But even in the quiet, leafy suburbs, Molly’s own pending motherhood makes her unable to ignore these missing children. What she uncovers will put her life—and that of her baby—in danger.
New York City, July 1904
Satan finds work for idle hands to do. That was one of my mother’s favorite sayings if she ever caught me daydreaming or lying on my back on the turf, staring up at the white clouds that raced across the sky. I could almost hear her voice, with its strong Irish brogue, as I sat on the sofa and sipped a glass of lemonade on a hot July day.
Frankly, I rather wished that Satan would find me something to do with my idle hands because I was dying of boredom. All my life I’d been used to hard work, forced to care for my father and three young brothers after my mother went to her heavenly rest. (At least I presume that’s where she went. She certainly thought she deserved it.) And now, for the first time in my life, I was a lady of leisure. Ever since I found out I was in the family way, back in February, Daniel had treated me as if I was made of fine porcelain. For the first few months I was glad of his solicitous behavior toward me as I was horribly sick. In fact I began to feel more sympathy for my mother, who had gone through this at least four times. But then, at the start of the fourth month, a miraculous change occurred. I awoke one morning to find that I felt well and hungry and full of energy. Daniel, however, still insisted that I did as little as possible, did not exert myself, took no risks, and generally behave like one of those helpless females I so despised.