MURPHY'S LAW: A Molly Murphy Mystery
The prolific Bowen, creator of Welsh constable Evan Evans (Evan Can Wait; Evan and Elle; etc.), relies a bit too much on coincidence but conveys a nice sense of place and period in this debut of a new historical series with its spunky, 19th-century Irish heroine, Molly Murphy. Defending herself from the unwelcome advances of the local landowner's son, Molly accidentally kills him and flees her village to escape hanging. She heads for the anonymity of London, where a twist of fate introduces her to Kathleen O'Connor. Kathleen has two small children and tickets for a ship to America, where she plans to join her husband. But knowing they won't let her on the ship because of her tuberculosis, Kathleen persuades the desperate Molly to take her children to America. On board, Molly attracts the loud attentions of a crude, boisterous type named O'Malley. Her public argument with him comes back to haunt her when he is found murdered on Ellis Island; Molly becomes a prime suspect, along with a young man she befriended. The handsome young policeman investigating the case, Daniel Sullivan, appears to believe Molly's protestations of innocence, but Molly decides her she'd better investigate on her own behalf and that of her friend. Wending her way through a vivid, Tammany Hall-era New York, Molly struggles to prove her innocence, aided by one coincidence after another. (Oct. 15)
Forecast:Bowen's solid reputation will generate strong sales for this series debut, though Constable Evans fans should beware that the gentle humor of those novels is lacking here.