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The Last Illusion

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           Irish immigrant and PI Molly Murphy is thrilled to have a ticket to the theater to see a trio of illusionists that are all the rage. Indeed, headlining is Harry Houdini, the most sensational of them all; he has just returned from entertaining European kings and queens for a brief run on Broadway.           But before Houdini can even take the stage, the opening a            Irish immigrant and PI Molly Murphy is thrilled to have a ticket to the theater to see a trio of illusionists that are all the rage. Indeed, headlining is Harry Houdini, the most sensational of them all; he has just returned from entertaining European kings and queens for a brief run on Broadway.           But before Houdini can even take the stage, the opening act goes horribly wrong and to the crowd’s shock the illusionist saws into his assistant. In the aftermath, the stunned performer accuses Houdini of tampering with the equipment he keeps under lock and key. And he’s not the only one critical of “The King of Handcuffs.” Risking his life every night, Houdini has raised the stakes to such a perilous level that he’s putting lesser acts out of business.           With everyone on edge, Houdini’s wife hires Molly to be part investigator/part bodyguard, but how can she protect a man who literally risks his life every night? And how is she going to uncover whether these masters of illusion are simply up to their tricks or if there truly is something much more treacherous going on.           With sparkling wit, charming characters, and historic detail, multiple award winner Rhys Bowen brings early-twentieth-century New York City and the fantastic performers of the time vividly to life in The Last Illusion.


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           Irish immigrant and PI Molly Murphy is thrilled to have a ticket to the theater to see a trio of illusionists that are all the rage. Indeed, headlining is Harry Houdini, the most sensational of them all; he has just returned from entertaining European kings and queens for a brief run on Broadway.           But before Houdini can even take the stage, the opening a            Irish immigrant and PI Molly Murphy is thrilled to have a ticket to the theater to see a trio of illusionists that are all the rage. Indeed, headlining is Harry Houdini, the most sensational of them all; he has just returned from entertaining European kings and queens for a brief run on Broadway.           But before Houdini can even take the stage, the opening act goes horribly wrong and to the crowd’s shock the illusionist saws into his assistant. In the aftermath, the stunned performer accuses Houdini of tampering with the equipment he keeps under lock and key. And he’s not the only one critical of “The King of Handcuffs.” Risking his life every night, Houdini has raised the stakes to such a perilous level that he’s putting lesser acts out of business.           With everyone on edge, Houdini’s wife hires Molly to be part investigator/part bodyguard, but how can she protect a man who literally risks his life every night? And how is she going to uncover whether these masters of illusion are simply up to their tricks or if there truly is something much more treacherous going on.           With sparkling wit, charming characters, and historic detail, multiple award winner Rhys Bowen brings early-twentieth-century New York City and the fantastic performers of the time vividly to life in The Last Illusion.

30 review for The Last Illusion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    It looks as if Molly is going to choose diamonds over her detective agency. Too bad, because Daniel gets a bit tiresome in this installment. Practically all his lines command Molly to give up the PI business or forbid her to take risks. I would rather marry Lord Peter Wimsey, who tells his lady love, "If you have put anything in hand, disagreeableness and danger will not turn you back, and God forbid they should." It looks as if Molly is going to choose diamonds over her detective agency. Too bad, because Daniel gets a bit tiresome in this installment. Practically all his lines command Molly to give up the PI business or forbid her to take risks. I would rather marry Lord Peter Wimsey, who tells his lady love, "If you have put anything in hand, disagreeableness and danger will not turn you back, and God forbid they should."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    daniel is such a condescending, chauvinistic prick who has no respect for molly and if i didn't like her i wouldn't even bother with this series because i'm starting to hate this dude so much. daniel is such a condescending, chauvinistic prick who has no respect for molly and if i didn't like her i wouldn't even bother with this series because i'm starting to hate this dude so much.

  3. 4 out of 5

    cloudyskye

    Can't believe I'm done with this. It's not even an awful story, but I was soooo bored. I used to like Molly Murphy's adventures to begin with, and Rhys Bowen does find new and interesting aspects of the period (early 20th century New York, quite well researched, too, I believe), but I'm too fed up by now with the Molly-Daniel relationship thing, the eternal "I'm a working independent woman" versus the "little wife", same old, same old. I can't be bothered anymore. I'm officially dropping this ser Can't believe I'm done with this. It's not even an awful story, but I was soooo bored. I used to like Molly Murphy's adventures to begin with, and Rhys Bowen does find new and interesting aspects of the period (early 20th century New York, quite well researched, too, I believe), but I'm too fed up by now with the Molly-Daniel relationship thing, the eternal "I'm a working independent woman" versus the "little wife", same old, same old. I can't be bothered anymore. I'm officially dropping this series. Goodbye, Molly Murphy!

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    Not as enjoyable as some of Molly’s adventures and Daniel is a bit of a tool. All he ever seems to say to Molly is give up being a detective and are you cooking me dinner. A good story with Houdini making an appearance with his wife Bess who is a meek paranoid woman. I liked the plot a murder on stage, espionage, illusionists and counterfeiting. The ending was a bit disappointing and what happened to the eagle eyed Ted when Molly was brought into the theatre towards the end.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aoife

    3.5 stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pareena Padiyar

    The storyline was unnecessarily stretched but all and all a good plot line with a lot of historical value. P.S still hate capt Sullivan 😒

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is an interesting novel set in the early 1900's New York. The heroine, Molly Murphy, is an Irish immigrant who works as a private detective. Oddly as this sounds, she assisted a private detective who died and she, essentially, took over his business. She faces the difficult position of being a woman in a profession that is clearly outside of normal social standards, filling her time working on divorce cases, etc. and somehow managing to make a living at it. The funny thing was that she does This is an interesting novel set in the early 1900's New York. The heroine, Molly Murphy, is an Irish immigrant who works as a private detective. Oddly as this sounds, she assisted a private detective who died and she, essentially, took over his business. She faces the difficult position of being a woman in a profession that is clearly outside of normal social standards, filling her time working on divorce cases, etc. and somehow managing to make a living at it. The funny thing was that she doesn't appear to speak with an Irish accent-- this is the 9th novel in the series and I have not read any others, but I find it odd that she would have been able to shed that accent. The author mentions a few Irish things, but does a poor job of presenting her as an Irish immigrant. While attending a theater performance, she is horrified to see an illusion go wrong and a woman nearly get sawed in half. The woman is killed, taken from the theater by ambulance and then, both her body and the magician involved disappear. While trying to assist in the commotion, she comforts Bess Houdini, and is soon sought out by Mrs. Houdini, who is convinced that there is some form of threat against her husband. She invites her to observe her husband perform and watch for monkey business-- but of course-- things proceed from there. The pacing of this novel is not exceptionally fast, but for a period piece, set in the early 1900's that wasn't too much of a problem for me. The problem I had was her modern social values. Her acceptance of the Bohemian lifestyle ladies who live across the street (implied lesbians, but never stated) and Ryan, an obviously gay man who doesn't seek to conceal his gayness at all. While I am certain that there have always been people who accepted alternate lifestyles, those ideas did not seem to fit in with the piece at all. When Daniel, the gay dressmaker makes her a dress, she disrobes in front of him only because she knows he is gay and there will be no advances made towards her, yet acts modestly throughout the remainder of the story, even expressing dismay at a costume she has to wear during her investigation. (He soon to be fiance is also disturbed by the revealing costume)... There is a decent enough mystery here, though why the heroine should make the discoveries she makes other than Mr. Wilkie's agents (Secret Service) is beyond me. If she could go to the location and find the clues, obviously Wilkie's agents could have done the same. Through it all, we have the mysterious conduct of Mr. Harry Houdini himself. The author does a good job of incorporating him into the story, but just out of the spotlight. He is integral to the story,but the author keeps him from taking over the story. He is portrayed in his glory, but only as a side character whose behavior and history is presented in a really decent manner. Bowen has obviously studied a bit about Houdini and illusions and her knowledge and some of the things she reveals about some of his tricks are well-known. She also manages to give Molly a decent enough look at the tricks to be amazed at them, even while trying to see up close, how they are accomplished. Her amazement gives the readers a glimpse into what it must have been like to see Houdini, live on stage, no camera tricks, etc. accomplishing his magic illusions. A decent period piece, but the touches of modern thinking hurt it a bit.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Molly Murphy, the scrappy Irish immigrant private eye discovers the world of illusionists in this ninth novel of the series. Although not my favorite, I still am a Molly fan. Set in New York City in early years of the 20th century, Rhys Bowen gives us a glimpse of that exciting time in U.S. history. While watching a theatrical performance of illusionists, Molly and her betrothed Daniel Sullivan witness a woman being sawed in half during a failed magic trick. Later in the story, Molly befriends an Molly Murphy, the scrappy Irish immigrant private eye discovers the world of illusionists in this ninth novel of the series. Although not my favorite, I still am a Molly fan. Set in New York City in early years of the 20th century, Rhys Bowen gives us a glimpse of that exciting time in U.S. history. While watching a theatrical performance of illusionists, Molly and her betrothed Daniel Sullivan witness a woman being sawed in half during a failed magic trick. Later in the story, Molly befriends and is hired by Bess Houdini, the great Harry's wife. It seems that someone is out to get Harry and Bess, and perhaps Molly. Its a fun mystery, loaded with tidbits about magic and illusions, and the personality and career of Harry Houdini. Molly is a spirited young woman, fearless and intelligent. It is disheartening to find her close to marriage and having to face giving up her career, friends and independence. Let's face it, in the majority of the twentieth century, women were defined by their marital status and dependent on husband and/or family for their livelihood. Although, I was angry at Daniel the entire novel, he was merely voicing the belief system in that society at that time. I wonder what Rhys Bowen will have in store for Molly in the future.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tony Hisgett

    I haven’t read one of these Molly Murphy books for two years, mainly because I can’t stand Daniel Sullivan, the self-centred, chauvinistic jerk. The only reason I keep trying again is a really like Sid & Gus and I can’t believe Molly won’t eventually come to her senses. At the start of the book his first words directed at Molly were; ”I want you to obey me for once, without a fuss” Why does she stay with him? The whole book is just full of incidents where any normal person would have just ditche I haven’t read one of these Molly Murphy books for two years, mainly because I can’t stand Daniel Sullivan, the self-centred, chauvinistic jerk. The only reason I keep trying again is a really like Sid & Gus and I can’t believe Molly won’t eventually come to her senses. At the start of the book his first words directed at Molly were; ”I want you to obey me for once, without a fuss” Why does she stay with him? The whole book is just full of incidents where any normal person would have just ditched him. As for the mystery, it just took so long to get going, if I hadn’t been so annoyed about Daniel, I would have just been bored. I won’t be coming back to this series.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This story had so much potential, but it was disappointing at times. Daniel was particularly annoying. A fun story line involving Harry Houdini and his wife and other magicians held my interest most of the time. Not my favorite Molly Murphy but acceptable.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I like Rhys Bowen's historical fiction/suspense mix. She uses real historical characters with her fictional heroine, in this case it was Harry Houdini. I like Rhys Bowen's historical fiction/suspense mix. She uses real historical characters with her fictional heroine, in this case it was Harry Houdini.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Wide Eyes, Big Ears!

    When Molly & Daniel go to see the great Houdini perform, they get embroiled in murder and plots of national significance. One of the better Molly Brown mysteries. I’ve always liked Rhys Bowen’s ability to bring the early 1900s to life, and peeking behind the magician’s curtain and rubbing shoulders with Houdini was interesting. What I always dislike is the friction between Daniel being overprotective and condescending and Molly trying to assert her independence. It gives a sour tone to every boo When Molly & Daniel go to see the great Houdini perform, they get embroiled in murder and plots of national significance. One of the better Molly Brown mysteries. I’ve always liked Rhys Bowen’s ability to bring the early 1900s to life, and peeking behind the magician’s curtain and rubbing shoulders with Houdini was interesting. What I always dislike is the friction between Daniel being overprotective and condescending and Molly trying to assert her independence. It gives a sour tone to every book. I understand that it reflects the mores of the time but it’s exhausting. Where’s Phryne Fisher when you need her? 🎧 Nicola Barker narrates well but I cringe whenever I hear her voice Daniel or other overbearing males.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Good fast read, a Molly Murphy Mystery, she is s private dectective in NY, in the early 20th century and gets herself into some situations that are pretty scary. In this book she meets Houdini and befriends his wife, who hires her. Her fiancé Daniel, is a Captian in the N Y Police, and is not happy with her profession!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Haddock

    Just when I think this series can't get better, a book blows me away again. Loved the real historical characters who played parts in this one. Just when I think this series can't get better, a book blows me away again. Loved the real historical characters who played parts in this one.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Roberts

    When I read the synopsis to this book I was excited. A young, female detective protecting one of the world's most famous illusionists Harry Houdini. What could go wrong? Then I read some reviews on Goodreads about how annoying the constant barrage of her fiancé's requests for her to leave the business was but I was taken back by how constant and frustrating it was. Not to mention his emotions were all over the place which was incredible confusing. I can understand that many men in that era though When I read the synopsis to this book I was excited. A young, female detective protecting one of the world's most famous illusionists Harry Houdini. What could go wrong? Then I read some reviews on Goodreads about how annoying the constant barrage of her fiancé's requests for her to leave the business was but I was taken back by how constant and frustrating it was. Not to mention his emotions were all over the place which was incredible confusing. I can understand that many men in that era thought that way but the constant "You could harm my reputation." made me want to throw the stupid book across the room. Mostly because this ridiculously annoying fiancé took away from the actual story which would have been good. One other issue that frustrated me was the fact that as Molly woke up early she would say as "Theatre folk were notorious late risers." and she repeated this multiple times throughout the story. I felt like this was kind of amateur way of writing like I don't need such information repeated constantly. I can't even review the actual story because of these complaints and for that I apologize.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I thought a story about a spunky Irish female private investigator in early 1900's New York City sounded interesting. Especially since Harry Houdini was her client. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this. The main character of Molly Murphy seemed continuously torn between being a modern, independant woman, and bowing to the expectation to become a docile, boring proper wife to her policeman fiance. While I understand that she probably would be facing such a choice, I just found that her constant angs I thought a story about a spunky Irish female private investigator in early 1900's New York City sounded interesting. Especially since Harry Houdini was her client. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this. The main character of Molly Murphy seemed continuously torn between being a modern, independant woman, and bowing to the expectation to become a docile, boring proper wife to her policeman fiance. While I understand that she probably would be facing such a choice, I just found that her constant angst and inability to decide what she wants and go for it quickly became tedious and annoying. I also had difficulty believing Molly could possibly be a successful investigator. She just seemed a bit ditzy and flighty, and given the type of city New York was at that time, I seriously doubt that Molly could have kept herself out of trouble long enough to solve any client's case. This just didn't work for me. It was a disappointment.

  17. 4 out of 5

    James Aschbacher

    Being an avid fan of Harry Houdini and all things magical, I was really excited to read this book. This was my first Molly Murphy mystery and will probably be my last. The writing is plain and very repetitive - annoyingly so. Same with Ms. Bowen's ideas of independence vs. marriage - it got old fast. Anyway, what really frustrated me was how wrong the magical facts were for the time period. Two things really stood out for me. The first being that Houdini didn't do any Spiritualist debunking unti Being an avid fan of Harry Houdini and all things magical, I was really excited to read this book. This was my first Molly Murphy mystery and will probably be my last. The writing is plain and very repetitive - annoyingly so. Same with Ms. Bowen's ideas of independence vs. marriage - it got old fast. Anyway, what really frustrated me was how wrong the magical facts were for the time period. Two things really stood out for me. The first being that Houdini didn't do any Spiritualist debunking until the early 1920s, after his mother dies. Not in 1903. And the illusion that is described near the end of the book in which Molly watches and then puts everything together to solve the mystery, (It's called "Zig-Zag Girl") was created by Robert Hardin in the 1960s!!! This kind of sloppy research just annoyed me no end. And Bowen's use of modern phrases and words being used in 1903 New York also fried me. Oh well, if you like hokey mystery novels, then this book is for you...but not for me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    Horror and screams filled the theater as Molly and Dainel watch an illusionist's performance go wrong and his assistant is cut in half. Daniel immediately takes over and Molly is asked to take Bess Houdini to her dressing room. Bess asks Molly to help protect her husband as she is afraid someone is trying to kill him. Molly accepts. Daniel forbids her to become involve in the case. This story has many twists to it making it hard to figure it out. Molly promise Daniel it will be her last case. The Horror and screams filled the theater as Molly and Dainel watch an illusionist's performance go wrong and his assistant is cut in half. Daniel immediately takes over and Molly is asked to take Bess Houdini to her dressing room. Bess asks Molly to help protect her husband as she is afraid someone is trying to kill him. Molly accepts. Daniel forbids her to become involve in the case. This story has many twists to it making it hard to figure it out. Molly promise Daniel it will be her last case. The answer will surprise you.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Lots of twist and turns that all tie together at the end of the story. Still hasn't married Captain Sullivan, but they are at least engaged! Molly is supposed to retire from the detective business once she marries, but somehow I don't think that will happen. She loves her independence, so this should be fun! Lots of twist and turns that all tie together at the end of the story. Still hasn't married Captain Sullivan, but they are at least engaged! Molly is supposed to retire from the detective business once she marries, but somehow I don't think that will happen. She loves her independence, so this should be fun!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Erin Lee

    I like that in this book, Molly outright admits that she's solved cases by luck rather than by observation. This whole premise is absurd, but I've always been fascinated by the life of Harry Houdini, so I was glad to see he played a part in this book (however ridiculous) I like that in this book, Molly outright admits that she's solved cases by luck rather than by observation. This whole premise is absurd, but I've always been fascinated by the life of Harry Houdini, so I was glad to see he played a part in this book (however ridiculous)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hermien

    Pleasant read. I like the way she weaves real historical events into the books like The Wizard of Oz musical on Broadway in the early 1900's and Houdini who is at the heart of this mystery. Pleasant read. I like the way she weaves real historical events into the books like The Wizard of Oz musical on Broadway in the early 1900's and Houdini who is at the heart of this mystery.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Great Book I always love the excitement in these books. This one was exciting, but it was also very intellectually challenging. I loved the historical references too.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Camilla

    I think I'm a bit of a monster because I find these stories more exciting when Molly actually puts herself in danger to solve the mystery. I love it when she's not just traipsing up and down New York city to interview random people, because although that does help flesh out the mystery, it's very boring to read about. When she is attacked by the murderer and has to outwit him to escape, I'm much more intrigued. This installment did just that (well, it actually did both things) and I loved it. It I think I'm a bit of a monster because I find these stories more exciting when Molly actually puts herself in danger to solve the mystery. I love it when she's not just traipsing up and down New York city to interview random people, because although that does help flesh out the mystery, it's very boring to read about. When she is attacked by the murderer and has to outwit him to escape, I'm much more intrigued. This installment did just that (well, it actually did both things) and I loved it. It also had a very compelling story line, since illusionists sort of took the world by storm during this time period and I love how Bowen incorporates so much little-known history into her fiction. It gives the story so much flavor. The Daniel-Molly relationship is advancing along at a perfect pace. There's still a lot of underlying difficulties, namely Molly's independence versus her love for her fiance. She is struggling to give up some things (her employment, her house, her neighbors) to take on her new role as wife. At first I was exasperated that these sacrifices were even on the table and I wondered whether their relationship was worth all that loss. I even worried that their disagreements meant their marriage was fated to fail. Then I realized that I was viewing their courtship through my post-feminism lens, and I had to check myself and apply the proper historical context on the situation. Daniel wasn't asking for anything inappropriate or out of the norm for that time period, and even Molly recognized that. She was willing to compromise and Daniel made allowances for her independent spirit that were above and beyond what a typical man would be expected to tolerate at the turn of the 20th century. Additionally, their relationship ran so much deeper than merely affection and social pressure. They really were compatible--like-minded and deeply in love with one another. Their marriage will be just fine. I also appreciated Molly signing on for secret service work during the story and how even the villains take the time to praise her for her sharp wit. It's unlikely and purely for the enjoyment of the reader, and I lapped it up. She really is a clever detective.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beachreader

    Molly, our intrepid lady detective, is still caught in a dilemma between wanting to marry Daniel, her police officer fiance, and wanting to maintain her independence and continue her career. Molly can't see herself as the type of wife Daniel expects. She doesn't "...want to become a wife--not in the way that is accepted for wives to become--a submissive adornment only good for dinner parties and having children." This is the ninth book in the series and this particular trope is getting old. The t Molly, our intrepid lady detective, is still caught in a dilemma between wanting to marry Daniel, her police officer fiance, and wanting to maintain her independence and continue her career. Molly can't see herself as the type of wife Daniel expects. She doesn't "...want to become a wife--not in the way that is accepted for wives to become--a submissive adornment only good for dinner parties and having children." This is the ninth book in the series and this particular trope is getting old. The title of the next book indicates a marriage will finally take place, but will Molly become the obedient wife Daniel wants or will she continue to be an investigator, perhaps helping Daniel in his police investigations (but on the sly, of course, because Daniel is never going to place himself in a place where he would be humiliated by that). The Last Illusion is an interesting story full of historical characters and returning familiar characters. The setting is New York City and Bowen has turned that setting itself into a major character in most of these books. Her attention to detail and history make these stories appealing to readers of historical fiction. This may be my favorite book in the series, though I know I have given five stars to previous entries. The mystery is complex, yet very easy to follow and quite interesting as a mystery and as reimagined historical fiction. Molly seems to actually becoming skilled at her craft. There is less bumbling than in previous books. I am so glad to have found this series last year. It is far more satisfactory to be able to read the books within a short timeframe so as to maintain continuity.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Faythe Shattuck

    Molly Murphy is thrilled to have a ticket to the theater to see a trio of illusionists that are all the rage. Headlining the show is Harry Houdini, the most sensational of them all; he's just returned from Europe where he was entertaining kings and queens for a brief run on Broadway. But before Houdini can even take the stage, the opening act goes horribly wrong, while doing a trick the illusionist saws into his assistant. In the aftermath, the stunned performer accuses Houdini of tampering with Molly Murphy is thrilled to have a ticket to the theater to see a trio of illusionists that are all the rage. Headlining the show is Harry Houdini, the most sensational of them all; he's just returned from Europe where he was entertaining kings and queens for a brief run on Broadway. But before Houdini can even take the stage, the opening act goes horribly wrong, while doing a trick the illusionist saws into his assistant. In the aftermath, the stunned performer accuses Houdini of tampering with the equipment that he keeps under lock and key. And he’s not the only one critical of “The King of Handcuffs.” Risking his life every night, Houdini has raised the stakes to such a perilous level that he’s putting lesser acts out of business. With everyone on edge, Houdini’s wife Bess hires Molly to be part investigator/part bodyguard, but how can she protect a man who literally risks his life every night? And how is she going to uncover whether these masters of illusion are simply up to their usual tricks or if there truly is something much more treacherous going on. Besides the case of being an investigator/bodyguard, Molly finds herself drawn into the mysteries of German spies, a kidnapping, a murder, and an attempted murder. All of the mysteries come together and get wrapped up in a neat and tidy conclusion. Once again the author does a nice job of mixing a history lesson and her story lines together. I really hope that Molly can make Daniel see that being a private investigator is something that she's good at, and that she doesn't really want to give it up. I did like how the author had the Houdini's explain how they did the mind reading act, and how some of the tricks are actually done. I can't wait until the next book to see what kind of wedding Molly and Daniel are going to have, it would be nice if the author has the O'Connor family come back into the series since they were an important part of Molly's life early on in the series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I've read two random books in this series now and I think I would like to go back and read it in order. I think there are 17 installments and unfortunately I've read #9 and #13. Molly Murphy (I picked up the first one because of her name) is a detective in a time when that was a rare thing, especially for a woman. This episode takes place in 1903 in New York City. Women's roles at this time were very circumscribed and Miss Murphy steps outside the prescribed conditions gracefully while still manag I've read two random books in this series now and I think I would like to go back and read it in order. I think there are 17 installments and unfortunately I've read #9 and #13. Molly Murphy (I picked up the first one because of her name) is a detective in a time when that was a rare thing, especially for a woman. This episode takes place in 1903 in New York City. Women's roles at this time were very circumscribed and Miss Murphy steps outside the prescribed conditions gracefully while still managing to pay lip service to the mores. She also juggles the expectations of her soon-to-be-husband police Captain Daniel Sullivan who hopes this to be her last case. (I'm guessing this doesn't happen as the series continues.) When you add in Molly's chance encounter with King of Handcuffs Harry Houdini and his wife and later with mysterious government agents and the inundation of the city with counterfeit money, there is a lot going on. Molly must go undercover, while actually exposing more of her person than she would wish to in front of a large audience. Lots of intrigue, lots of action, and a satisfying conclusion.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    Molly is front and center for an illusionist's show in the theater that precedes The Great Houdini. The show that precedes him is going to saw a women in half, a risky illusion that is not often performed. Unfortunately, things go wrong and the assistant in the box receives severe injuries and is whisked off to the hospital. Molly follows Daniel on stage to see what they can do to help. Is it an accident or a murder? Who tampered with the equipment? After several days, the Great Houdini is again Molly is front and center for an illusionist's show in the theater that precedes The Great Houdini. The show that precedes him is going to saw a women in half, a risky illusion that is not often performed. Unfortunately, things go wrong and the assistant in the box receives severe injuries and is whisked off to the hospital. Molly follows Daniel on stage to see what they can do to help. Is it an accident or a murder? Who tampered with the equipment? After several days, the Great Houdini is again scheduled to perform and this time the assistant, his own wife, barely escapes death as she is trapped in a locked chest. From this Molly is requested by Mrs. Houdini herself to watch over Harry and prevent him from injury. Things of course get more and more complicated as Molly tries to piece together what is truth and what is illusion. She even becomes an assistant to Houdini. And what a surprise that is to Daniel to find her on stage in a very abbreviated costume. These books just get better and better. Another great look at New York in the early 1900's and the backstage of the theater and competition among illusionists.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chazzi

    When Molly Murphy has a chance to see the Great Houdini perform, she is cheated out of it. The opening act goes deathly wrong — the illusionist literally saws his assistant in half before a full audience. Molly finds herself helping Bess, Mrs. Houdini, back to her dressing room. When Bess finds out Molly is a private detective, she hires Molly to keep an eye on Houdini and protect him from harm. She has noticed Houdini talking with some strange men, recently. Things make a sharp left when on of Ho When Molly Murphy has a chance to see the Great Houdini perform, she is cheated out of it. The opening act goes deathly wrong — the illusionist literally saws his assistant in half before a full audience. Molly finds herself helping Bess, Mrs. Houdini, back to her dressing room. When Bess finds out Molly is a private detective, she hires Molly to keep an eye on Houdini and protect him from harm. She has noticed Houdini talking with some strange men, recently. Things make a sharp left when on of Houdini’s illusions goes wrong and he completely disappears. Now Molly has to find Houdini — dead or alive. She is also dealing with her “intended,” police detective Captain Daniel Sullivan. He is on the verge of “popping the question” and already has plans of a wedding at his mother’s picaresque home. Molly is a bit on the fence. Sullivan feels Molly’s detective business isn’t appropriate for a woman, and frequently expresses it. This is a cozy series taking place in the early 1900s. It can be a fun read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    A most enjoyable mystery. The Molly Murphy series has grown on me, as Molly negotiates turn of the twentieth century New York City. In this one she is closer than ever to her marriage to Captain Daniel Sullivan of the New York City police, but she still has time for another case or two. She attends an evening of magic, which is supposed to feature Harry Houdini, but he doesn't appear that night because a magician earlier on the program attempt to saw a woman in half and fails. Molly befriends Ho A most enjoyable mystery. The Molly Murphy series has grown on me, as Molly negotiates turn of the twentieth century New York City. In this one she is closer than ever to her marriage to Captain Daniel Sullivan of the New York City police, but she still has time for another case or two. She attends an evening of magic, which is supposed to feature Harry Houdini, but he doesn't appear that night because a magician earlier on the program attempt to saw a woman in half and fails. Molly befriends Houdini's wife and is drawn into multiple mysteries featuring German spies, kidnapping, murder, and attempted murder. The author does a great job of recreating Greenwich Village at the time as well.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This was not my favorite of the Molly Murphy mysteries, but was still enjoyable. I liked the way Bowen wove in the Houdini story and a few twists and turns made the story more surprising. I am weary of the Daniel-Molly conversations that are repeated over and over and over through the series...I hope we can marry them off soon. And I get it...Theater people are notoriously late risers...that particular comment was made WAY too many times. I do enjoy the 1900's New York setting, and I have loved This was not my favorite of the Molly Murphy mysteries, but was still enjoyable. I liked the way Bowen wove in the Houdini story and a few twists and turns made the story more surprising. I am weary of the Daniel-Molly conversations that are repeated over and over and over through the series...I hope we can marry them off soon. And I get it...Theater people are notoriously late risers...that particular comment was made WAY too many times. I do enjoy the 1900's New York setting, and I have loved Bowen's writing, but this one fell a little short of what I have come to expect from her. Hopefully the next one improves a bit.

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