A Golden Cage (Newport Gilded Age)
by Shelley Freydont
Cover Artist: Aleta Rafton
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425275856
Date: 07 June 2016 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Set in Newport, Rhode Island,A Golden Cage by Shelley Freydont follows the life of Deanna Randolph. Bored by society life, Deanna can't resist dabbling in solving the murder of a young actor. However, will her efforts ruin her reputation and lead to more murder?
A debutante and heiress, Deanna finds her mother's restriction irksome. When her mother takes Deanna's sister, Adelaide, to Europe seeking a cure for her migraine headaches she leaves Deanna in the care of Gwendolyn Manon and the Ballards. Gwen is also the grandmother of Deanna's former beau, Joe Ballard. Little does Deanna's mother know how unconventional Gwen can be.
Deanna and Gwen attend a play hosted by the Granthams. Maude Grantham has arranged for her husband, a judge and strict moralist. The slightly risqué play shocked some attendees. One of the actresses is Annabelle Deeks whose mother is a friend of Joe's mother.
Late that night Joe stops by a friend's yacht where a party is in full swing. Plenty of liquor and actresses from the play, one of whom is Annabelle, provide the entertainment. Bored, Joe soon leaves. Then he encounters a frightened Annabelle and offers his help, but she refuses.
Early in the following morning Annabelle seeks refuge with the Ballards. They put her to bed and return to theirs. When a maid discovers a dead man in the conservatory the Ballard family is shocked. It's a handsome young actor from the play, and Annabelle is missing.
Will Hennessey, a policeman and a friend of Joe's, takes up the case. Meanwhile, Deanna decides to speak with the actors and find Annabelle. Deanna is convinced Annabelle didn't kill the young actor. However, the acting troop is less than helpful. Deanna is locked in a linen closet by the actors, but is soon freed. Noreen, an actress friend of Annabelle's, provides some information about her. Joe worries Deanna expose herself to danger and damage her reputation.
The police and Maude Grantham are determined to solve the case, but Deanna is convinced they are looking in the wrong places. Joe too investigates. Will is pushed by the higher-ups of the police determined to solve the murder and insure nothing reflects on the judge. He and Joe team up and pool their knowledge. Things are not what they appear regarding Annabelle's life style.
The background to the mystery gives glimpses of the upper class and their lives. Deanna chaffs against those restrictions and sometimes risks her reputation. Colorful characters such as Gran Gwen, the acting company, and Joe's efforts as an inventor add texture to the mystery. The ending is sure to surprise most readers.
Shelley Freydont is the author of several mystery series including the Celebration Bay Mysteries, the Lindy Haggerty Mysteries, and the Sudoku Mysteries. She also writes under the name Shelley Noble and has written some steamy romances for Brava.