#23 in the A to Z Mystery Tour
Rhys Bowen, 2001 – #1 in the Molly Murphy Mysteries
It’s 1901. Molly Murphy has killed a man rather than surrender her virtue; she’ll surely hang for the murder if she doesn’t make her way out of Ireland. Obviously she escapes the consequences of this murder, unjust though they would be, or we wouldn’t be talking about an entire series based on Molly’s exploits.
Molly makes her way across the Atlantic as “Kathleen O’Connor,” and during an overnight delay prior to her entering the US through the newly rebuilt Ellis Island, there is another murder. Circumstances point to Molly as a likely suspect, and Molly works to vindicate herself while finding the real murderer.
The best part of this book is the setting – New York City in 1901. The author’s research has resulted in a nicely fleshed-out setting, showing us what the city might have looked, sounded, smelled, and felt like to a brand new immigrant.
Although the book won an Agatha Award, the plot itself is cliché and simple, and the abrupt resolution of the murder investigation is a non-event. I did not guess the murderer – and no one would have a chance of guessing; this goal of this book is clearly to set the stage for a series. That being said, Ms. Bowen sets the stage for an intriguing, possibly multi-volume, story arc. I’ve read some of her other work and found it to be much better than Murphy’s Law, and I would read the next volume in this series if I ran across it at the library. Three stars.