THE AUTHOR: Gary Reilly
Dry wit, my favorite kind of humor, permeates this book from cover to cover. I immediately knew that I would love our author, Gary Reilly, because of his writing style. He would definitely be a fun friend to know. You can just tell.
Denver, Colorado, is the setting of this novel, in which Murph, our main character, tells the story. He is a “Rocky Cap” cab driver and a rejected screenplay writer and author. When Murph was a young driver and being trained by his mentor, Big Al, he was told repeatedly never to get involved in the affairs of his passengers. Up until now, Murph has been an excellent student and has followed Big Al’s teachings to a tee.
One night, however, Murph receives a call to pick up an 18-year-old female passenger. As she gets into his cab he notices that she is nursing a flask of vodka. In an effort to make conversation and to personalize the trip for her, as he does with all of his customers, Murph carries on a conversation with her, and soon realizes that she is drunk and not even wearing a coat in Denver’s snowy weather.
Before turning in Cab 127 at the end of his shift, Murph, as always, cleans out any trash and other objects that his riders may have left. He becomes aware that his 18-year-old passenger, who was dressed in a “flapper” dress but with no coat, has left her matching purse in the back seat of his cab.
Abandoning his normal behavior and instead acting like a “human being,” as Murph says, causes him to worry about the young girl with no coat and now with no money. He beats up on himself a little, thinking that his responsibility as a cab driver is to take care of his passengers. He feels like he has let this one down.
So, in an effort to be gallant, Murph heads to the theater where he dropped off his passenger to see “The Great Gatsby,” knowing that without her purse she will be penniless and stranded.
Murph learned on their earlier cab ride together that she aspired to become a movie actress and that she had once been the lead in her high school production of “Carousel.” But he both worried and wondered about whether she could actually be successful as a performer.
Murph quickly learns the importance of Big Al’s advice to stay uninvolved when the police call him in to be questioned about his “flapper,” who is now missing. He is purported to be the last person to see her alive. Not long after, Murph receives a phone call from the girl’s rich father, which explains the large wad of cash that Murph found inside her purse.
Here the real story begins. Murph left the “Ben Franklin” that was wrapped around the big roll in her purse untouched. He definitely could have used the extra cash, but he demonstrates that he is a kind, reputable man of good intentions when he doesn’t explore the rest of the roll, and only attempts to return the money and purse to their rightful owner.
During the phone call from the missing girl’s father, Murph also learns that her name is Alicia Hightower. Murph takes the call at home because the police suspect him of foul play, and the cab company’s insurance carrier has insisted that he be placed on suspension for not following procedures when he discovered the lost purse. Had he done so, he would have brought the purse to his supervisor, Rollo, whom he doesn’t trust because Rollo’s lost-and-found box always seems to turn up empty.
Murph finds out that Alicia’s wealthy father has hired a private detective who knows where she is. Now Murph re-learns the value of staying uninvolved when Mr. Hightower gets Murph to do him a favor that gets Murph head over heels into some real trouble. Murph has the adventure of his life as he becomes extremely involved in the lives of Alicia Hightower and her family.You will love reading this easy, witty, and enjoyable story, discovering how Murph behaves and is treated in the midst of this entire drama. I learned a lot about the life of a cab driver, the ins and outs of driving conditions, and how cab drivers think about weather a little differently than the rest of us.
Murph is the type of guy who would be fun to hang out with and to hear the many stories he has amassed while driving a cab for 14 years. His normal routine — to pick up Cab 127 and then go by the 7-11 Store to gas up and to buy breakfast (a Coke and a Twinkie) — may well be short-lived, given the latest news about the Twinkie’s real-life future (or lack thereof). You will have fun discovering if Murph finds Alicia, and if so, how, if at all, they affect each other’s lives. (Hint: Yes, and profoundly.)
This book leaves you in a very good and relaxed state of mind. And at this time of year with the holidays quickly approaching, it is the perfect “getaway” story to take your troubles away. It is a quick, fun read that has many twists and turns, and it will surprise you again and again.
Without any hesitation, I run Murph’s taxicab meter up to “4.5 out of 5 tiaras.” I hope that our author, Gary Reilly, is working on another book in which Murph is again our main character. I feel like the character Murph has a lot more to tell us, and that we could learn a lot more from his unique insight. So Gary, if you are reading this, I hope that you can take a big hint (and then will send me an advance copy)!
This book is emotionally uplifting and will make you think more than once about how you act, and what effect your actions may have upon the life of your child. I hope that you enjoy it at least half as much as I did, because if you do, you will be giving yourself a good time. And you deserve it.
Buice, a Carrollton resident, writes a weekly book review for the Times-Georgian. anitabook.com