>> Monday, August 2, 2010
Death of Riley by Rhys Bowen
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #2 in the Molly Murphy series
Publication Date: 2002
Challenges: Support Your Local Library #32
The Short Version:
Recent immigrant from Ireland, Molly Murphy tries to establish herself as a private investigator in 1901 New York and her first case ends up being the death of her teacher and boss.
Why I Read It:
I’d read the first in this series last year and enjoyed the mix of historical fiction and not quite cozy mystery. It made a good blend of the two genres that fit my mood.
In 1901, Molly Murphy has moved beyond the past events that brought her to New York from Ireland and is ready to move on with her life. Although it’s not considered a proper job for a woman what she really wants to do is be a private investigator. In need of income she agrees to take a job as a companion to an elderly woman. Although that position doesn’t work out for reasons that tug at Molly’s heart, it does lead her to meet the man who could become her mentor and teacher in the investigation business.
Unfortunately before Paddy Riley can really accept Molly as more than a cleaning person and office assistant he’s killed. Despite the apparent dismissal of the case by the New York police department as a gang hit job, Molly is determined to find out who killed Paddy and why. Even Molly’s friend, Captain Daniel Sullivan doesn’t seem to think much of Molly’s efforts.
Her inquisitiveness along with her determination leads Molly to the artists and intellectuals in Greenwich Village and more questions than answers to her efforts to untangle Paddy Riley’s notes of the cases he was investigating when he was killed.
This is a bit of a cozy mystery, although I suspect that before long Molly will truly be working as an investigator. At this point she’s still sort of trying to do the job she wants. There’s enough coincidence and implausible happenings to make it less than a hardboiled mystery series, but still enjoyable.
Molly is determined and intelligent and just independent enough to not want to play the traditional woman’s roles of her time. At the same time she makes enough silly moves and obvious mistakes that the book remains light. Granted, she’s just starting out and learning the job, but I’ll have to see how she develops in the next book in the series.
The setting of turn of the century New York is vividly portrayed in both the descriptions of the places and people. I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author paints the environment around Molly. The historical fiction aspect of the series is quite enjoyable and a fun period piece about New York in a time of drastic changes.
The series has been nice so far, and I’ll be reading the next one before long. They make a nice lighter quick read to have in the mix.