Friday, January 13, 2012

The Last Illusion, by Rhys Bowen

The Last Illusion
By Rhys Bowen

My quest to read mysteries which feature Harry Houdini as a character had to be modified somewhat when I realized just how many of these there actually were. The Last Illusion was the third one I've read. I have another in the on-deck circle and one I'm trying to find a copy of. After that, given the sudden influx of items into my To Be Read pile, I think I'll be throwing in the towel for now.

Rhys Bowen has written ten volumes of the series featuring Molly Murphy, a female detective who migrated from Ireland to New York City around the turn of the twentieth century. As the book opens she's at the theater with her police inspector fiancé when a trick goes wrong and a magician's assistant is critically injured. Also on the bill that night, Harry Houdini, whose wife Bess approaches Molly to hire her to protect Houdini.

A few more suspicious incidents take place at the theater and then the plot takes something of a left turn. In the meantime Houdini has disappeared on stage in the midst of a trick, leaving a corpse in his wake. Which is about all I can say without revealing too much, except to say that Bowen brings things to a reasonably satisfying conclusion. And while I've expressed my dissatisfaction with romantic subplots before, the one presented here was kind of interesting, as it examines Molly's fiancé's dissatisfaction with having a wife who's employed as a private detective and the tensions that creates.

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