Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s The Last Illusion

Posted July 23, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Rhys Bowen’s The Last Illusion

The Last Illusion


Rhys Bowen

historical mystery in Hardcover edition that was published by Minotaur Books on March 2, 2010 and has 288 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Evans Above, Evan Help Us, Evanly Choirs, Bless the Bride, Evan and Elle, Naughty in Nice, Evan Can Wait, Evans to Betsy, Evan Only Knows, Her Royal Spyness, A Royal Pain, Royal Flush, Evan's Gate, Royal Blood, Evan Blessed, Evanly Bodies, Rhys Bowen, Hush Now, Don't You Cry, The Twelve Clues of Christmas, The Family Way, Heirs and Graces, Queen of Hearts, Malice at the Palace, Crowned and Dangerous, On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service

Ninth in the Molly Murphy mystery series set in turn-of-the-century New York. Molly is a recent Irish immigrant who fell into the private detective business.

My Take

At this point in the series, Daniel has asked Molly to marry him and he wants her to give up her private detecting. Naturally, Molly is furious. Not only does Daniel expect her to give up her career but her house and her friends.

I do so enjoy Molly. She’s feisty and an early women’s libber. Bowen gives us a look into how society views and treats women as well as a peek into the everyday life of ordinary people. Well, okay, not so ordinary, but definitely a lot of fun. I do enjoy how Bowen shows us the excitement of the first motorcars. The introduction of the first telephones and fingerprinting before it’s been accepted as a legitimate part of the legal process. Bowen accurately presents the travails of living in the New York City of that time period — you almost want to head out of town yourself to find some coolness from the summer heat and humidity.

My one caveat about most of Bowen’s books is the little sum-up she has Molly doing at the end of some chapters. Sometimes it seems as though Molly is just too naïve or that Bowen thinks the reader is stupid and needs some help.

The Story

An illusion, cutting a woman in half, goes wrong during a magical performance, but fortunately, Daniel and Molly are in attendance and both leap up to the stage. Although ordered home by Daniel, Molly scrapes up an acquaintance with Harry Houdini’s wife, Bess who hires her the next day to protect Harry.

A job that quickly involves German spies, cloak-and-dagger action, and the Secret Service.

The Cover and Title

I like the cover with Molly in her pretty but serviceable dress and matching hat with a poster advertising Harry Houdini, King of Cards.

The title is kind of appropriate, although I’m not sure to which illusion it refers, let alone what The Last Illusion is. Molly does learn how some of Harry’s tricks are worked. It could refer to Molly’s discovering the German spies or perhaps that a plot to flood the country with counterfeit money could destabilize the economy. Or even just something as individual as Molly getting tired of the danger and fear that goes along with her career.