MURPHY'S LAW by Rhys Bowen
A MOLLY MURPHY MYSTERY
St. Martin's Minotaur, October 2001
When she is forced to flee turn-of-the-century Ireland for killing her landlord, Molly Murphy assumes the identity of a woman heading for New York. When a murder occurs on Ellis Island, Molly is a suspect. By coincidence, the woman whose identity she assumed was from the same small town as the victim. To protect herself and the only friend she made on the ship (who, coincidentally, was also from the same small town), she has to discover the killer. Fortunately, Molly can't walk down the street without running into a suspect, each of whom is acting out his guilt.
Molly's extreme good luck is fortunate since all she knows about the killer is that he had whiskers (and she goes through much of MURPHY'S LAW accusing everyone with whiskers of the crime). (Coincidentally, Molly had gone walking on the night of the murder and seen the murderer).
Author Rhys Bowen is a talented enough writer to weave even a long string of coincidences into an interesting story. It is obvious that she has done extensive research on turn-of-the-century New York, and the historical detail is both interesting and well integrated into the story. Unfortunately, Molly Murphy, the protagonist, spends much of the novel with her nose in the air looking down on other people which, for this reviewer, at least, makes her so wonderfully unsympathetic that I had ambivalent feelings about her rescue from the sea where the killer finally throws her.
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