Saturday, October 10, 2009

Murphy's Law

Molly Murphy, a young Irish woman, suddenly finds herself fleeing from the law. She leaves her small village behind and heads to London, hoping to lose herself in the crowded city. A chain of events leads her to agreeing to accompany two young children across the ocean to their father. She travels under an assumed name, pretending to be their mother, who is sure to be turned away and sent back to Ireland because of her ill health. Molly is only too glad to help reunite the children with their father - plus she knows that she will be hanged if she is caught by the police.

A murder occurs on the day of their arrival at Ellis Island, and Molly falls under suspicion, along with some of her traveling companions . Even though Molly grew up in a lower-class household, she was educated with the daughters at the "big house," and she is intelligent and resourceful. Her quick tongue and wits impress the handsome policeman investigating the murder, and even though he believes she is married to the children's father, it is clear that he finds her attractive. Molly believes she saw the killer the night of the murder, and she feels the police are looking in all the wrong places. So she decides to find the killer herself.

Molly's story is s vivid depiction of life in nineteenth-century New York City and the Irish immigrant experience, as well as the political climate of New York at the time, and the heavy-handed influence of Tammany Hall. Molly is impulsive and fairly foolhardy, and her actions are not always well reasoned. She is kind, though, particularly to the young children who have had to leave their mother behind in Ireland, and even though her new life in America is a continual struggle, she is determined to do what she must to survive. The plot does strain credibility at times, but Molly and the other characters are so engaging that I really couldn't bring myself to mind very much.

I learned of this series from a patron at my library, who came to the reference desk to place a hold on one of the books. She was so passionate about how much she was enjoying the series that I asked her to tell me about it. She came back a few days later to return the first book, which her husband had also read and enjoyed, and gave it to me so I could give it a try. And I'm glad she did. I love working at the library! This is a great choice for readers who enjoy historical mysteries, and also those who prefer a more traditional approach, without the gore and violence, and with compelling, interesting characters and situations.

Books in the Molly Murphy series:
1. Murphy's Law
2. Death of Riley
3. For the Love of Mike
4. In Like Flynn
5. Oh Danny Boy
6. In Dublin's Fair City
7. Tell Me, Pretty Maiden
8. In a Gilded Cage

Murphy's Law (#1 in the Molly Murphy series) by Rhys Bowen (St. Martin's Minotaur, 2001)

Also reviewed at:
Bookgirls' Nightstand: "I enjoyed reading about what the travel must have been like on the ship and what it must have been like to arrive at Ellis Island. Plus, the book features a very likable heroine, one who is also very independent and not easily beaten by her circumstances."
Lynne's Little Corner of the World: "She's a spunky lady, not afraid to speak her mind and travel into unknown and probably unsafe locations."
Whimpulsive: "Yes, it’s the typical intelligent plucky heroine and the plot coincidences are many , but I found myself forgiving all the predictability and just enjoying this quick and entertaining read."


  1. I like the title... :) Not sure if I am interested in reading the book, but I had to comment on that at least!

  2. I've heard of this book and have wanted to read it. I love the time period and add in Irish and I'm there. BUT I had no idea it was a series! Now I must get around to reading it!

  3. Kailana - I'll let you know how the next one goes!

    Nicola - I really learned a lot about the time period, things I'd heard of - like Tammany Hall - but hadn't known much about. I look forward to hearing what you think about it!

  4. Thanks so much for linking to my review. As you said, it strained credibility a few times but was still a very enjoyable read.

    I hope to get to the second one in the series soon.

  5. SuziQ - My pleasure - I enjoyed reading your review. I am looking forward to the next one in the series as well - it will be interesting to see how the series progresses!

  6. Hi Darla - Thank you so much for linking my review! I was a bit letdown with the book overall but I'll be looking for your review of the next one to see if I should give it a go :)

  7. Iliana - My pleasure! I didn't feel let down, really - I usually try to give the first book of a series a bit more leeway, and often the books get better and better. Here's hoping! I'm happy to be a literary guinea pig. :-)


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