Sergeant Patrick Murphy O'Shaughnessy was a New York Police Department officer working in the homicide division. He was assigned to liaison duty when Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast took an interest in the Surgeon Copycat Killings case.
Appearance and Mannerisms
O'Shaughnessy was of Irish descent and was a fifth-generation police officer. His fellow officers teased him for so perfectly fitting a New York stereotype, calling him "Paddy" and "the last Irish cop on the force".
He was dark-haired, as Nora Kelly thought he was "handsome in a Black Irish kind of way". His personality was quiet and circumspect. Professionally, he was jaded with police work and was counting down the years until he could take an early severance package. He disliked his immediate superiors at the precinct.
O'Shaughnessy mentioned having a sister-in-law in Oklahoma, but he was not married.
O'Shaughnessy was a devotee of opera, an interest which he withheld from his fellow police officers.
O'Shaughnessy was initially dismayed to be assigned liaison duty. He found Pendergast offputting, especially when Pendergast revealed that he had done a thorough investigation of O'Shaughnessy's own past.
He quickly came to appreciate Pendergast's no-nonsense manner and drive for results. On their first errand together, Pendergast barged his way into the office of an uncooperative curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and used flattery and his encyclopedic knowledge of art to convince the curator to examine a dress belonging to murder victim Mary Greene.
O'Shaughnessy worked in the Seventh Precinct, under Captain Sherwood Custer. Earlier in his career he had been reprimanded for accepting a bribe from a prostitute in exchange for her release. Because of his checkered history he was often given assignments of little importance, or that other officers did not want.
After 36 bodies were recovered from a 120-year-old coal tunnel at a Moegen-Fairhaven construction site, Captain Custer assigned O'Shaughnessy to serve as liaison to Special Agent Pendergast of the FBI, who had taken an interest in the case. Custer instructed O'Shaughnessy to stick close to Pendergast and report back regularly on his activities. O'Shaughnessy came to respect Pendergast and served him well, angering his superiors, jeopardizing his career, and ultimately costing him his life.
Pendergast and O'Shaughnessy investigated the artifacts recovered from the construction site and learned that the plot had formerly been the location of a proto-museum called J.C. Shottum's Cabinet of Curiosities and Natural Productions. They found a letter in the museum archives, written by J.C. Shottum to his colleague Tinbury McFadden, which revealed that the murders had been perpetrated by an enigmatic scientist, Enoch Leng, who rented a laboratory above the Cabinet. The letter speculated that Leng was killing people in an attempt to develop a formula to extend his own life. Shottum was killed in a fire at the cabinet days after writing the letter, and McFadden also went missing a short time later.
Journalist Bill Smithback revealed the contents of the letter in an article in the New York Times, stirring up a minor media frenzy. In the aftermath of the article, a new wave of killings began, initially targeting tourists and pedestrians in isolated areas of New York's parks. The victims were found mutilated, with an incision made in the lower back and a part of the spine removed. The police suspected a copycat killer inspired by Leng, and the killings were dubbed the Surgeon Copycat Killings.
While investigating the cases, Pendergast was attacked and stabbed by a man in a derby hat and a black coat. While he was in the hospital recovering, O'Shaughnessy continued to supply him with information and helped him investigate the history of Enoch Leng, as well as construction magnate Anthony Fairhaven, a prominent friend and supporter of the mayor.
He ran into Smithback, who was conducting his own investigation, and the two men began meeting at the Blarney Stone Tavern to trade information. Pendergast, Smithback, O'Shaughnessy, and Nora Kelly located another of Leng's laboratories at 99 Doyers Street in Manhattan. The building was now apartments, and Kelly rented a basement room in order to excavate the former lab. There they discovered the body of Tinbury McFadden, as well as several other clues that allowed Pendergast to hone in on the location of Leng's home in New York City.
When Captain Custer became aware that O'Shaughnessy had been helping Pendergast, he placed him on administrative leave, with a recommendation that he be fired. Pendergast immediately hired O'Shaughnessy as an FBI consultant and arranged for him to be given temporary FBI credentials.
While on assignment for Pendergast, tracking down sales receipts from a shop called New Amsterdam Chemists, O'Shaughnessy took a detour to 16 Water Street, the home of the murdered Mary Greene. He felt something out of place, and soon discovered a man in a derby hat and black coat was tailing him. The man ambushed and chloroformed O'Shaughnessy in a dark alley.
O'Shaughnessy awoke in a basement room, his arms and legs shackled. He realized he had been kidnapped by the very Surgeon that he and Pendergast had been searching for. O'Shaughnessy was unable to escape his bonds and suffered a horrible fate as the surgeon operated on him and removed the cauda equina portion of his spinal cord while he was still alive.
When he realized that Pendergast had found him, the Surgeon propped O'Shaughnessy's barely-living body up in a service elevator. As Pendergast and Nora Kelly entered, he caused the elevator to fall into the basement, stunning Pendergast and breaking O'Shaughnessy's neck.
Pendergast deeply regretted involving O'Shaughnessy in the case, and regretted his death even more. He called O'Shaughnessy "a good man, and a fine officer." He arranged a Catholic burial for O'Shaughnessy and anonymously provided a small legacy to his nearest relatives.