Wednesday, October 14, 2015


RHYS BOWEN;  When I tried to select a piece from the new Royal Spyness book I am writing at this moment I realized I couldn’t select anything without it being a spoiler and giving away a huge plot twist. In fact the whole story is a plot twist. The book is called (at the moment) CROWNED AND DANGEROUS and follows immediately upon the events of the last book, MALICE AT THE PALACE. Those of you who have read that know that it ended on a cliff hanger. So I don’t want to give anything away by revealing what happened next.

Instead I’d like to share with you the opening lines of my upcoming Molly Murphy Christmas book called AWAY IN A MANGER. It comes out next month and is a story of two beggar children Molly finds on a New York street. Children who are unlike any other beggars in their manners and speech. Knowing she should not interfere and yet forced by circumstances to do so, their story takes her from dangerous docklands into the highest levels of New York Society

The book opens like this:

New York City, Wednesday December 13, 1905
“Tis the Season to be jolly,” sang the carol singers outside Grace Church while across Broadway the brass band of the Salvation Army thumped out “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” in competition.  It seemed as if the whole of New York City was suddenly caught up in the Christmas spirit. I maneuvered Liam’s buggy along the crowded sidewalk, checking to make sure that Bridie was walking close beside me. In such a crowd one couldn’t be too careful. Everyone seemed to be laden with packages and baskets of food items needed for holiday baking.  It had been a year of optimism with President Roosevelt elected for his first full term of office and the Wright brothers showing the world that airplanes really could stay up in the sky for more than a few seconds. We definitely were in the age of progress.
  I pulled Bridie back from the edge of the street as an automobile drove past, sending up a spray of slush and mud. So much for the age of progress, I thought as some of it splashed onto my skirt.  It had snowed the night before, the first snow of the season, creating an air of excitement, until the sun had come out and started to melt it, making the sidewalks slippery, dirty and difficult to navigate.  As we reached the corner of Tenth Street the young crossing sweepers were busy at work, clearing a pathway through the slush so that we ladies didn’t get the hems of our skirts dirty. 
“Merry Christmas. God bless you, lady,” they called out, holding out raw little hands, covered in chilblains. I felt guilty that I hadn’t a penny or two ready for them, but the truth was that there were so many of them. How could I possibly choose one? And it was not only the crossing sweepers with their hands out. There were beggars of various sorts every few yards along Broadway, from hunched old women to pitiful children. Then there were those like the crossing sweepers, one step up from beggars—the newsboys, the flower sellers with their tiny sprigs of mistletoe and holly. There were just too many of them as well. It hadn’t been a year of progress for all of New York, that was clear enough. Immigrants were still arriving in their thousands, cramming into the already jam-packed Lower East Side and trying to support their families any way they could—many by selling a few eggs, roasted corn, boot laces from a push cart.  I passed a baked potato stand with its enticing aroma. Several young boys stood around it, holding out their hands to the glowing charcoal until the owner drove them away.
As we moved away from the choir of carol singers, who were warmly wrapped in scarves and cloaks against the cold I was aware of another voice—small, high and beautiful.
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,” it sang, “The little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head.”
Bridie heard it too and tugged at my sleeve. “Look, over there,” she said.
I looked. A small girl was sitting in a doorway of Daniell’s Haberdashery Store, huddled against the cold in a thin coat. She held out a tin cup as she sang, but people passed her without noticing her.
“Do you think she’s an angel, come down for Christmas?” Bridie whispered to me.
She certainly looked like one. She had almost white-blonde hair and big blue eyes in a little heart-shaped face and her voice was so pure and sweet that it brought tears to my eyes.
“We have to give her something,” Bridie said firmly, but I was already reaching into my purse. “Go and give her that,” I said, handing over a quarter.
She looked at it critically as if she thought it ought to be more, then took it and darted through the crowd to drop it in the girl’s tin mug. The child looked up and gave Bridie an angelic smile. Her gaze fell on me and I had a strange feeling of connection.



  1. Ah, Christmas and children . . .
    Thanks for sharing this; it certainly made me feel as if I was right there with Molly, moving along the sidewalk and listening to the carolers.
    Now I'm looking forward to reading the book to find out about the little girl with the angelic voice . . . .

  2. I used to love to walk through NYC when I was kid. I think Rockefeller Center was my favorite spot, but I also liked that cheesecake place in the theatre district. There was a deli, too, that I loved. Great. I look back and wonder why my mother let me go like that. I'm glad I did it, but I had no understanding of the dangers. Just the beauty and the fun...

  3. Oh my, what a magical opening. NYC at Christmas so much has changed and yet so much has not.

  4. What a wonderful passage to read first thing in the morning, Rhys! Thank you.

  5. A twist? A twist? WHAT WHAT WHAT??? NOw I am obsessed…

    You are amazing, Rhys!

  6. Lovely opening, Rhys. I adore pictures of NYC at Christmas time.

  7. This one is already tugging at my heartstrings, Rhys! No one's child should be out in the cold, begging for pennies.

    And will wait (but not too patiently) for the next Royal Spyness!

  8. I'm very much looking forward to visiting Molly this Christmas!

  9. Oh my, a chance to rescue the Little Match Girl . . . The heart melts. I want to take her home, warm her up, and feed her. <3
    . . . must read more!
    I told my version of the Vanishing Hitchhiker last night. Since I'd never pick up a regular hitchhiker, mine is a little girl named Sarah, cold and just wanting to get home . . .

  10. Oh, Rhys, I can't wait to read this!!! Such a vivid, descriptive opening, and I already want to know the little girl's story. Bravo!

  11. Now I really want to read the rest of it, and I try to hold off on Christmas material until Advent. And I can't wait for the next Royal Spyness.

  12. Rhys,

    Love this title- perfect for Christmas, look forward to reading this new Molly book at Christmastime.


  13. Isn't it interesting that there are now a whole slew of Christmas mysteries. When I did Twelve Clues of Christmas there were only three or four. I think we all want to reconnect with a safer, gentler time and the holidays we remember from our childhood.

  14. Rhys,
    I'm not up to date with Molly's stories because I began with Royal Spyness's ones
    But I can't wait to read this one. You cought me at the beginning like everytime.

  15. I am such a Christmas person, and this story hit me right in the heart!!! I love it. So much atmosphere and history in a few lines. I would love the ARC, but you can be sure that this book will be on my Santa list!

  16. Cliff hanger is an understatement! Malice at the Palace was wonderful. I was up late into the night to finish. As I got to the end, I realized there weren't enough pages left for the scene to finish the way I wanted. I even checked the next morning to make sure my bleary eyes hadn't miss it due to my sleep deprived state.

    I am so happy to see Bridie again. I worried about her stuck out in the tedium of Molly's mother-in-law's house. I don't know how you keep two great series going at the same time. What a treat to have a Christmas story this year.

  17. Oh, can Molly buy some potatoes from the potato seller and give them to the boys with the cold hands? It would help them all!

  18. I am so thrilled to be getting some extra Molly, and a Christmas story is especially exciting! It's so good to have Bridie back with Molly. This excerpt is so enticing, and hints at a possible connection to the little carol singing girl have my imagination in overdrive.

  19. What a terrific opening. I feel like I am right there with Molly. Got me right into the spirit. And thanks for not sharing Royal Spyness. I have gotten behind and not to the cliff-hanger yet. Must catch up.

  20. What a heart-tugging opening! I'm so anxious to see if Molly rescues this little angel or if she is indeed an angel. A perfect Christmas beginning.

  21. You write such wonderful books. They are a delight to read.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  22. I don't know how you can top "The Twelve Clues of Christmas" for one giant plot twist, but you know I'm a sucker for a good Yuletide murder (or two, or more...)! Oh, and I'm on the invalid list again while I recover from foot surgery--it's true, I'm shameless enough to hope for an ARC by playing that card...