I really enjoyed this first book in a series featuring Francesca Cahill, aspiring private investigator. Seldom have I read a book that is brimming with the same kind of raw energy as that of the main character, Francesca. I was so caught with the enthusiasm and energy that this novel possessed that time passed without me realising it until the book was finished. This novel definitely makes for engrossing reading!
Francesca Cahill believes in doing something worthwhile with her life. An ardent reformer, her current ambition is to be the first female newspaper reporter in New York. However, Francesca is also the member of a prominent New York family, where the daughters marry well, have children and partake in the social functions -- they do not attend college and get jobs!
At one of her mothers social dos, Francesca meets the new police commissiomer, Rick Bragg, and is immediately drawn to him. Unfortunately, she also finds herself, to her chagrin, behaving quite awkwardly. Later that same night, she discovers a cryptic unsigned missive, which she dismisses as some kind of prank while she tries to work out her uncharacteristic response to Bragg. The next morning however, the Cahills are shocked to discover that while the party was going on, someone had kidnapped one of their neighbour's sons. Francesca immediately realises the significance of the note and rushes off to inform Bragg. And even though Bragg warns her not to get involved and to leave the matter to the police, Francesca cannot help but become involved. The search for the truth and the little boy is too important to Francesca to give up. And soon she is knee deep in the race to find the missing boy who seems to be in the hands of a mad man bent on revenge rather than a ransome. Francesca's investigations will lead her to the seamier side of New York City, through the slums and into danger; her search will also lead her to discover some rather uncomfortable truths about her own family, truths she may have prefered not to know at all.
This is probably going to be the last book I read this year, and I'm glad that I closed out the year on a high note. Brenda Joyce has created a wonderful protagonist in Francesca Cahill, who is brave and passionate and simply brimming with energy. It is obvious that this charcater is young and a little naive -- in fact her naivety lands her in danger more than once! But we not only overlook this but root for Francesca to somehow come out on top and go on. The plot is clever one and the pacing of the sequence of events is flawless: the tension is palpable as page after page one wonders at what new horror will be uncovered and if the unfortuante little boy will be found alive.
A masterfully written novel. I look forward to the next Francesca Cahill novel eagerly.