A woman ahead of her time, Molly Murphy is determined to be a private detective. Having inherited the cases of her deceased mentor, Paddy Reilly, she's following philandering husbands, tracking down a runaway Dublin debutante, and working in a sweatshop to discover who's purloining dress designs. None of her jobs seem dangerous...at first. When a woman's body is fished out of the East River, Molly fears it's the missing society girl. Then Molly's sometime beau, police captain Daniel Sullivan, reveals that another corpse may be the girl's scalawag lover, Mike Kelly. But Molly has to know their identities for certain. Now as threads of passion and greed weave a tapestry of violence, Molly descends into the underworld of the gangs of New York. It's no place for a lady, and even a scrappy Irish lass may need more than her street smarts to get the truth...and get out alive.
In Bowen's engaging third Molly Murphy historical (after 2002's Death of Riley), Molly finds it's not easy to be a female detective with a brogue as thick as ham in 1901 New York. Late one night, two brutish cops haul her off to the slammer because they think she's a prostitute; they don't believe her claim that she was staking out the house across the street. She makes things worse on herself by refusing to mention her friendship with police captain Daniel Sullivan, who could have her released in a jiffy. Instead, she spends a different sort of night in a cell full of whores. Having taken over the detective agency of her recently deceased mentor, Paddy Riley, Molly pursues a couple of cases that form the guts of the story. In one instance, she goes undercover in a sweatshop to ferret out possible industrial espionage; in the other, she looks for an English gentleman's runaway daughter, who is, in turn, searching for her husband. All the threads come neatly together in a fire at a dress-making shop. The question left dangling is a romantic one: will Molly settle for a good friendship with labor leader Jacob Singer, or will she fall back into the arms of her police captain? Only Bowen's next Molly Murphy mystery will tell.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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November 29, 2004
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