A Deadly Fortune

Stacie Murphy

Pegasus Books, 2021

Agent: Jill Marr

Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parleyed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. But safety and comfort vanish when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically-expanded gift. After she publicly channels an angry spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles to control her disturbing new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity.

Andrew Cavanaugh is familiar with despair. In the wake of a devastating loss, he abandons a promising medical career—and his place in Philadelphia society—to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Amelia Matthew is just another patient—until she channels a spirit in front of him and proves her gift is real.

When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter—a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum—he turns to Amelia. Together, they uncover evidence of a deadly conspiracy, and then it’s no longer just Amelia’s sanity and freedom at stake. Amelia must master her gift and use it to catch a killer—or risk becoming the next victim.


“Murphy serves up a dark side of the Gilded Age with intrigue, historical detail, and captivating characters. This is a mystery to savor!” -- Dianne Freeman, award-winning author of the Countess of Harleigh mysteries

"The 1893 world of the infamous lunatic asylum on Blackwell's Island comes alive in frightening and horrific detail as a string of murders for profit is discovered when a young woman with a gift for contacting the dead becomes an accidental patient. She must fight for her life as well as her freedom in this engrossing mystery that reveals that all was not golden in Gilded Age New York."  -- Rosemary Simpson, author of 'Death Brings a Shadow: A Gilded Age Mystery'

“Stacie Murphy proves herself to be a masterful storyteller with A Deadly Fortune—an elegantly written, fast-paced mystery that blends the dark side of the Gilded Age, great characters and a paranormal twist. Impossible to put down." -- Julie McElwain, author of the Kendra Donovan Mystery Series

This engrossing mystery, rich in period detail, probes the dark side of Gilded Age New York and the even darker side of life at the insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Plucky Amelia Matthew rises to the considerable challenges that surround her, uncovering increasingly dangerous secrets that point to the presence of a murderer in the asylum. Amelia has a special gift that both helps and complicates her search for the truth, making her a unique heroine. A Deadly Fortune builds to a satisfying conclusion that will whet the reader’s appetite for more of Amelia’s adventures! -- Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints and Bear No Malice


"Amelia Matthews, the heroine of Murphy’s sterling debut, makes a good living as a fortune-teller for a gentlemen’s club in Gilded Age New York City. A concussion greatly enhances her somewhat iffy psychic gift, but after she’s possessed by an angry spirit and loses consciousness, she wakes days later in the notorious Blackwell’s Island City Asylum. There’s no way to contact her foster brother to rescue her, and no one believes anything she says—until she meets Dr. Andrew Cavanaugh, who specializes in mental diseases, and convinces him of her gift by channeling his late sister. Andrew asks Amelia to use her abilities to help him locate a missing woman who was committed to the asylum by her loathsome husband, and in return, Andrew promises to help Amelia escape. Instead, they discover someone in the asylum is in the business of murdering unwanted wives for money. Besides Amelia’s fascinating psychic adventures, Murphy chillingly evokes some social ills of 19th-century America, including the complete control of women by their husbands. Readers will hope Amelia returns soon."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)