Wealthy and beautiful bluestocking Francesca Cahill is a woman extraordinaire. At 20 years old, she is a free-thinking reformist. She heads countless organizations, helps the poor, and studies full-time in a college. At the same time she goes to dress fittings, attends parties, and meets with men whom her mother introduces to her. Although the pressure of getting married is burdening her, she still waits for her perfect man - a man who has the same ideals, an unblemished honor, and most importantly, one who would understand and encourage her thinking and socio-civic activities. When Francesca meets Rick Bragg, she knows in her heart that she has finally found the right man.
Newly appointed police commissioner Rick Bragg is impressed by Francesca's beauty and much more her intelligence. However having just received his commission, Rick tries hard to be successful in his duty. He has no time for social dating and puts all of his time in his work. When the news of an abduction of a boy belonging to a noble family blows up, he spends all his time and resources in solving the case. But a distraction that keeps on interfering with his work is Francesca, who by chance obtains the first of the many clues leading to the victim.
Francesca is devastated when she finds out that her next-door neighbor's son has been abducted. While perusing their mail, she accidentally gets a mail from the abductor which she immediately gives to Rick. When Rick clearly doesn't want her interfering with the case, she sets out to solve the case, piecing the clues one by one herself. While she gets more involved with the case, she learns horrifying secrets such as the mother of the abducted child has many strings of lovers despite presenting a happy marriage and her brother-in-law being one of the lovers. The most heartbreaking is that Rick has been the mother's former lover and father of the abducted child. As the abductor becomes irrational and morbid in his clues, Rick and Francesca senses that their time is quickly running out and they may be too late to save the child. Can they stop the abductor become a murderer?
This report prepared by Katrina Lo
St. Martin's, Jan 2001, 352 pp.
In 1902 New York City, even her family believes that kindhearted, social issues advocate Francesca Cahill is an eccentric. Francesca belongs to every known society trying to reform the ills of the universe. However, her family knows only the tip of the iceberg of Francesca's efforts. The do-gooder attends college with no one the wiser and belongs to many more organizations that help the needy than either her parents or sister Connie even know.
While attending a ball, in which she meets police commissioner Rick Bragg, Francesca finds a ransom note making demands for the return of her neighbor's little boy abducted from his bed. Unable to let it go, the do-gooder begins making inquiries. Rick, vowing to remain clean, tries to stop the enchanting, but obstinate Francesca from continuing with her investigation. When that fails, he joins her efforts mostly to keep her safe, not yet knowing the danger that awaits them.
DEADLY LOVE is a superb merging of an amateur sleuth novel with a historical police procedural mystery. It turns into a fabulous reading experience for genre fans. The story line works on several levels. The investigation is filled with a sexual tension between the fully developed lead characters and the infusion of historical tidbits makes the Big Apple at the turn of the century seem very much alive. Romance readers already know that B.D. Joyce by any other name (Brenda Joyce) means a fabulous well-crafted novel and now mystery fans will know likewise.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner