Deadly Illusions, the latest offering in the Francesca Cahill series, continues Joyce’s penchant for combining mystery with sensual romance. The Slasher is murdering poor young Irishwomen in turn-of-the-century New York, and amateur sleuth and wealthy socialite Francesca is determined to find the killer. Her sleuthing throws her in with her former love interest, police commissioner Rick Bragg, who also just happens to be the half-brother and implacable rival of her fiancé, semi-reformed libertine Calder Hart. Sparks and jealousies fly as Francesca tries to unmask the killer before he strikes again, this time at those she holds dear.
The dialogue often feels anachronistic, the main characters seem too modern, and imbuing the setting with a genuine historical feel is not Joyce’s forte. However, the driving force behind this and the other novels in the series, namely the character relationships, is well-done and will definitely hold the reader’s attention. Though not particularly thought-provoking, the mystery subplot is interesting and fast-paced, and it provides the perfect foil to set up the interactions between the characters. Overall, Deadly Illusions is a fun and entertaining novel that will leave the reader eagerly waiting for the next installment to see how the characters’ relationships progress.