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Tell Me, Pretty Maiden (Molly Murphy) by Rhys Bowen
Review by Beth Slater
St. Martin's Minotaur Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312349431
Date: 04 March 2008 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

We once again join Irish immigrant Molly Murphy in her New York adventures as a private investigator in the early 1900s. Work seems to be pouring in, enough that Molly is able to hire her beau Daniel, a police Captain who has been suspended but whose charges have been dismissed. Pending approval from the superintendant, Daniel will be reinstated, but until then he is doing nothing but getting under Molly's feet, so she decides to put his skills to good use by giving him work to do -- finding the missing nephew of a wealthy society matron with whom Molly is friends. But could this young man be on the lam with the loot from the latest job of burglaries?

Molly is busy trying to unearth the supernatural pranks that threaten the well-being of a well known actress who is friends with a former client of Molly's. As Molly begins to suspect that no ghost is responsible for the mischief, she winds up with a role in the performance and less time to work on her other cases.

Molly's biggest concern is the young woman she found in the snow in Central Park, almost dead. Mute and unable to tell anyone her name, Molly calls her Mary and visits her in the hospital to see if there is any improvement in her health. Upon finding out that she will be shipped off to the mental institution upon discharge, Molly kidnaps her and takes Mary home to rehabilitate herself. Daniel, frustrated beyond measure, tries to take the upper hand in the relationship, but Molly will have none of it. The two continue working their cases as best they can with the little time they can spare.

In between the drama of the private investigations that Molly is running, we get to peek inside her social life and get updated on her multitude of friends from the variety of stations in life. Like many Americans in the coming years, Molly's friends come from all walks of life - the caste systems are not nearly as strict in the Melting Pot as they were in many of the Home Lands. Bowen's portrayal of the early twentieth century can almost make you feel as though you are shivering in the slushy streets with dripping petticoats along with Molly.

I have enjoyed every one of Bowen's books. I love Molly's ferocity and loyalty and independence, not to mention intelligence and heart. But I do not like Daniel. I haven't liked him since after Murphy's Law, although I cannot say why in particular. I understand the gender assignments, especially for the era, but for someone who supposedly loves Molly so much, he simply does not understand her. So I guess I have to say that is my beef with this series. I don't want them together. I don't think Molly should have a 'yes man' but definitely not someone who expects her to stay home and be taken care of, and to do the cooking, etc. If Daniel hasn't picked up on that by now, which it doesn't seem to appear so, then he isn't going to. Keep looking Molly!!!!

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