Murphy’s Law is the first book in the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen.
Quick Review (read on for full review)
An enjoyable first book in a cosy mystery series. Molly Murphy is a likeable and intelligent heroine, and I can’t wait to read more of her life in New York! 4 / 5
Summary (from Goodreads)
Murphy’s Law is the captivating first entry of Rhys Bowen’s New York Times bestselling Molly Murphy series.
Molly Murphy always knew she’d end up in trouble, just as her mother predicted. So, when she commits murder in self-defense, she flees her cherished Ireland, under cover of a false identity, for the anonymous shores of late nineteenth-century America. When she arrives in New York and sees the welcoming promise of freedom in the Statue of Liberty, Molly begins to breathe easier. But when a man is murdered on Ellis Island, a man Molly was seen arguing with, she becomes a prime suspect in the crime.
If she can’t clear her name, Molly will be sent back to Ireland where the gallows await, so using her Irish charm and sharp wit, she escapes Ellis Island and sets out to find the wily killer on her own. Pounding the notorious streets of Hell’s Kitchen and the Lower East Side, Molly undertakes a desperate mission to clear her name before her deadly past comes back to haunt her new future.
‘Ellis Island.’ The word went around the ferry and everyone jostled to try to get the first glimpse. It was imposing enough with its big brick arches and its shining copper turrets.
(From Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen, page 45)
An enjoyable first book in a cosy mystery series. Murphy’s Law is set at the turn of the twentieth century and tells of one woman’s – Molly Murphy’s – move from Ireland to America, and it was not an easy one.
I liked Molly. She has a great big heart but won’t stand for any nonsense, which is how she finds herself in the trouble she’s in. However, relying on her sharp wits and intelligence – surprising almost everyone she meets with the level of education she possesses – can get her into difficulties as well as out of them, as we soon discover.
Yet, for an intelligent young woman, Molly could be a little naïve at times. And luck and coincidence do play a fairly sizeable roll in the story, so if that’s the sort of thing that annoys you, you might not enjoy the book as much as I did.
The settings read as vivid and authentic. Whether it is rural Ireland, the bustling city of Liverpool or the sometimes dark and mean, sometimes colourful and enticing, streets of New York, there was enough detail and description to visualise clearly where Molly was and what she was seeing.
The passages set on Ellis Island, and on the ship crossing the Atlantic, were very well-written. They were sensitive and emotional and they show quite starkly the journey people were making to gamble on a better life in America. The immigration process once they reached Ellis Island was lengthy and must have been nerve-wracking for anyone who went through it, and as we see in the story, these people are vulnerable and easy to take advantage of.
As Molly tries to find her feet in New York, we are introduced to a number of characters, all of them coming across as believable. The budding romance between Molly and Captain Daniel Sullivan was interesting and awkward, given her story, and the attraction between them could be felt as the story unfolded. Michael Larkin was another interesting character. Although Molly described him as “young looking” the first time they met, I did wonder if he was to be the love interest of the book.
The mystery doesn’t always take centre stage in the story and at some points, it perhaps felt more of a historical fiction novel rather than a historical cosy mystery, but I’m not complaining as I enjoy both.
Murder, corruption, lies and half-truths, political intrigue and a dose of romance, Murphy’s Law has it all. An easy, entertaining read, and I’m looking forward to reading book two in the series, Death of Riley.