St. Martin's, Dec 2002, 24.95, 320 pp.
In 1901 New York, Irish immigrant Molly Murphy is not having any success in her search for a job that interests her. Her beau, police captain Daniel Sullivan, wants her to take a job as a companion to a wealthy woman, which she agrees to try. While working, she notices a man lurking around the woman's home in a furtive manner and is told by Daniel that he is Paddy Riley, a private detective.
Molly nags Paddy until he agrees to hire her as a clerk. One day she finds her employer murdered. Someone has gone through his files and a few days later, someone sets fire to the office, destroying everything inside. Molly has the notebook he always carried around while on a case and she notices that he was very upset about a conversation he overheard in a bar. Molly successfully tracks down one of the people and through him she is able to locate the person he met with that night. Headless of the danger to herself, Molly continues to investigate and brings herself to the attention of a murderer who has every intention of killing again.
Rhys Bowen gives her audience a very accurate picture of what New York City was like for an immigrant in 1901. The heroine is a very spunky and likable woman who acts on her convictions even when it puts her in danger. DEATH OF Riley is a delightful historical cozy starring characters that are eccentric, bohemian, and believable. The ending will come as a shock to the audience because the author cleverly disguises the direction she is moving the story line along.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner