Full of the rich detail of New York's teeming immigrant community and the colorful historical personalities of the age, For the Love of Mike is the triumphant third installment in Rhys Bowen's Agatha Award-winning series.
Molly Murphy is starting to think the cards are stacked against her. She's determined to be a private detective, but hampering her investigations is the fact that she's finding many places in turn-of-the-century New York City where women are not welcome, something that's as frustrating to her fiery Irish pride as it is to her rapidly emptying pocketbook.
Then two business opportunities pop up simultaneously. An aristocratic family in Dublin fears their daughter has fled to the New World with her unsavory boyfriend, and they hire Molly to track the two down and send the young woman back home. Before she has time to consider her good luck, she's asked to go undercover as a piece worker in the garment business and investigate a potential case of industrial espionage. Now if she can only solve both cases without the help of Daniel Sullivan, the police captain who claims he loves her but who is engaged to someone else...
In Bowen's engaging third Molly Murphy historical (after 2002's Death of Riley), Molly finds it's not easy to be a female detective with a brogue as thick as ham in 1901 New York. Late one night, two brutish cops haul her off to the slammer because they think she's a prostitute; they don't believe her claim that she was staking out the house across the street. She makes things worse on herself by refusing to mention her friendship with police captain Daniel Sullivan, who could have her released in a jiffy. Instead, she spends a different sort of night in a cell full of whores. Having taken over the detective agency of her recently deceased mentor, Paddy Riley, Molly pursues a couple of cases that form the guts of the story. In one instance, she goes undercover in a sweatshop to ferret out possible industrial espionage; in the other, she looks for an English gentleman's runaway daughter, who is, in turn, searching for her husband. All the threads come neatly together in a fire at a dress-making shop. The question left dangling is a romantic one: will Molly settle for a good friendship with labor leader Jacob Singer, or will she fall back into the arms of her police captain? Only Bowen's next Molly Murphy mystery will tell. FYI: The first in the series, Murphy's Law (2001), won an Agatha for Best Novel. Bowen is also the author of the Constable Evans series.