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IN DUBLIN’S FAIR CITY
by Rhys Bowen
St Martin's Minotaur, March 2007
272 pages
$23.95
ISBN: 0312328192


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In this sixth book of the Molly Murphy mysteries, Molly is finally headed back home to Ireland. Her official case is to find the baby sister of her client, who was left behind as the family fled the famine to America several decades before.

Unofficially, Molly is not above making a little extra money swapping places with actress Oona Sheehan, who claims that she wants to shake her over-eager admirers on the steamship back. Since Molly’s own first overseas passage was in steerage (again under an assumed name), she’s quite enjoying the perks of first-class travel in the early 1900s.

But when the actress’ maid is found murdered in Molly’s bed and it’s discovered that Miss Sheehan skipped ship before sailing, things heat up quickly.

It’s an exciting set-up, but I wasn’t as satisfied as I was with previous books in the series. One of the things that impressed me the most in MURPHY’S LAW was the real feel for what life was like for confused, hopeful immigrants. By the time we’re making the journey in reverse, there is no sense of excitement or discovery.

Also, the coincidences rack up well beyond the ability of disbelief to ignore them. One or two per book help the plot clip along. But Bowen throws in too many, hanging the plot on an utterly credulity-straining series of events. Molly not only has her original puzzle to solve and the onboard ship murder to deal with, she also smacks into two of her brothers, gets sucked into the Troubles and, to ice the cake, the man she was accused of murdering in the first book shows up as well.

It’s too much, especially in a book as short as this one. Instead of leaving the book satisfied that I had had a glimpse into the turn of the last century, I was wondering why there seem to be only 30 people in all of New York City and Dublin combined. And I find murder and pre-suffragette feminism quite interesting enough without throwing in the proto-IRA. IN DUBLIN’S FAIR CITY is only a mediocre member of the series, and not a good introduction to Molly at all.

Reviewed by Linnea Dodson, April 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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