For the month of December, I wanted some light books to read to help deal with the self-critical state I end up in towards the end of the year. One of those books I picked was the first of the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen, Murphy’s Law.
This first mystery follows Molly from Ireland to America as she flees her home due to murdering her attempted rapist and then assists a dying woman get her children to New York City where she is faced with the murder of a man she was seen having a falling out with. In order to avoid being found out for her crimes in Ireland and be cleared of police suspicion, Molly – pretending to be a Mrs. Kathleen O’Conner – treks all over New York to find the killer.
What I signed up for was a book I would give my mystery loving grandmother, but what I got was a solid whodunnit with a very serious look at rape culture and the immigrant culture of America in at the very start of the 20th century.
Molly is an incredibly strong woman who has a nose for puzzles but doesn’t suffer from “Sherlock Holmes Syndrome”, as she does make mistakes. Molly is smart, but she is also rather naive which is really what makes her interesting to me as an amateur detective of sorts. I also appreciated how it showed what poor immigrants had to go through while coming to America including being tricked out of their money, their valuables, and essentially their time as constant delays arose even before the murder too place. It goes into the horrific tenement housing and the racism between nationalities and religion. It goes into rampant sexual assault and forced prostitution.
I loved the way Rhys Bowen wrote this novel and I loved the social commentary. It tackled a lot of heavy topics while remaining an easy book to get through and it was a solid whodunnit that kept me guessing which is rare for me.
Trigger warnings for racism, anti-semitism, and sexual assault but this book is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. I look forward to the sequel.