Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy)
by Rhys Bowen
Review by Verna Suit
Minotaur Books Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312984977
Date: 15 December 2002 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This first of Rhys Bowen's award-winning Molly Murphy series introduces Molly as she is on the run in Ireland after accidentally killing a landowner in her hometown. For people of lesser classes in 1900, the policy is generally to hang first and ask questions later. Molly is not about to stick around to see if they'll make an exception for a pretty redhead.
Molly makes her way to London, where a quirk of fate lands her on a ship going to America. While she and her fellow passengers endure the tedious immigration proceedings at Ellis Island, a man is killed there. Molly and a shipboard friend become suspects and are detained even longer. To add to her worries, Molly has been traveling under an assumed name and is terrified every minute that her real identity will become known and she will be sent back to Ireland to face murder charges.
Molly is eventually released to face the daunting challenges of finding a decent place to live and a job to support herself. Meanwhile, she works to uncover the identity of the real killer and prove the innocence of her friend, who is still being held in jail for the crime. All of this combines to set up a premise for the following books in the series. Book number twelve, The Family Way, is to be released in March.
Murphy's Law deservedly won the 2001 Agatha Award for Best Novel. In its pages, readers get a first-hand look at New York City at the turn of the last century, through the eyes of a newly-arrived immigrant. The book focuses in particular on Irish-American politics and the power of Tammany Hall. This was the first Molly Murphy book I've read but I was optimistic after being enthralled by another Bowen series featuring Her Royal Spyness, Lady Georgiana Rannoch. The fast-moving adventures of Molly Murphy are every bit as engaging as those of Lady Georgie. I am delighted to discover this excellent series.