Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen

I usually don't read cozy mysteries, but a friend mentioned Rhys Bowen's series "starring" Molly Murphy after I mentioned an interest in New York City at the turn of the century. That is the 1900's.

Perhaps I'm the wrong person to write this review because the entire book was like a long soap opera; however, Molly was quite endearing.

She had run away from rural Ireland because she had accidentally killed the man who was attempting to rape her. She knew that given the time and her social status that the law would not be kind to her.

Now without a ticket to some place far way and without money she couldn't get far, but she meets someone whose husband is in America. The woman, Kathleen O'Connor, is worried about her children because her husband sent over tickets for the family to make the journey and join him in New York, but she has TB and is probably dying. She knows that she will be returned to Ireland when the doctors discover that she is ill.

Meeting Molly is fortuitous for both women. Kathleen convinces Molly to take her ticket and pretend to be her. Molly will shepherd the children to their father in New York City. The children are prepared to be complicit in this play.

Rhys Bowen peoples the boat with a series of stock figures and a death at the end of the trip. She had made a friend aboard the ship and he is one of the chief suspects as is Molly because she had argued with the murdered man.

Enter Molly who is determined to solve the murder. She meets the policeman assigned to the case, Daniel Sullivan, and is smitten with him.

Molly is the narrator of the story and it is through her eyes that we meet the O'Connor family and enter their home. And what a chaotic home it is-- dirty and peopled by a disagreeable lot. Kathleen's husband is heartsick, but appreciative and hopeful that his wife will heal.

Some of the particular details about life in New York City in 1901 boosted the stereotypical plot and characters. When Molly attempts to get a job at as a seamstress she discovers that it is an Italian shop and only accepts Italian women. Bowen does a good job of describing the immigrant in New York City and the ensuing class struggles.

Coincidence upon coincidence moves the story along. It doesn't matter if these occurrences are believable, it is Rhys Bowen's way of propelling the story forward.

Despite this Molly is a likable narrator and I can understand why she has a following. Perhaps at some later date I'll try another book in the series. I do want to know if she can establish herself as a private investigator and if she and Daniel do get together.