Recovering from a bullet wound, Captain Daniel Sullivan accepts a request from President Theodore Roosevelt and the Secret Service to assist with an investigation. He can’t tell his wife Molly anything at all about the assignment, including where he’ll be or how long he’ll be gone.
Though Molly isn’t running her detective agency anymore, a new acquaintance asks her to attend the cinema and look at a newsreel. It shows her businessman husband in a hotel lobby San Francisco, she says, and that is a place he has never been!
Sure enough, the lights go down and there is the woman’s husband in the grand lobby of the Palace Hotel. To Molly’s greater astonishment, Daniel is also there. She can’t imagine what could have taken him across the country.
A letter arrives from Daniel addressed to “My Dear Little Wife.” Ha! Fierce, wild, unstoppable Molly a “dear little wife”? He regrets she was “too frail” to make the trip with him. He mentions he’ll be seeing the great opera singer Caruso, and “knows she will be sad” to miss an opera with him and the opportunity for their usual “earnest discussion” of the performance. He asks after her embroidery.
Clearly something is very wrong. The letter must be in code! Daniel must want her to get on the next train to the coast. Her good friends Sid and Gus agree and she’s on a train to San Francisco, baby Liam her companion.
On arrival, she is shocked to learn Daniel is dead. He was seen near a cliff’s edge, and his body was found at the bottom, shattered on the rocks.
Naturally Molly is devastated. She’s also determined to find out what happened to Daniel and why he was in such a dangerous place.
Just as she puts together some of the clues to his death, the San Francisco earthquake occurs and the world falls apart. She loses Liam in the chaos, but finds Daniel.
The sixteenth Molly Murphy Mystery is a great read. Bowen does such a good job of giving you a feel for society life at the time, and a look at the city before it turns to ash.
Daniel and Molly make a wonderful team, she always helps solve mysteries and even when Daniel wishes she wouldn’t, he’s grateful for her keen thinking and insights. Molly is barely slowed down by little Liam. She’s taken him to Paris and now San Francisco. What other adventures will the little guy have before he can even walk properly?
Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy Page: