Monday, September 2, 2013

Bouchercon Book Reviews #6

Today's featured Boucheron authors' books reviews include a great series that I've been meaning to start for a while now, Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series, and the beginning of a new fascinating series, the Hattie Davish series by Ann Loan-Wilsey.

Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Mysteries #1)Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been meaning to read the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen for quite a while.  Finally, I have read the first book in the series, Murphy's Law, and I can't believe I waited so long.  I love the character of Molly Murphy, an Irish young woman who unexpectedly finds herself running from the English police and on a boat to America.  She makes a deal with another young woman who is trying to get her children to New York City to be with their father.  Molly agrees to escort the children when the woman gives her ticket to Molly because the mother is dying from consumption and not allowed to board the ship.

Molly's hope of arriving in America and quickly fading into the background of the masses is derailed when a murder occurs among the immigrants while waiting to leave Ellis Island, their point of entry to New York City.  Our sassy Irish lass is discovered to have been in the vicinity of the murder during the hours it took place, so she must face further delay and suspicions from the police before embarking on her new life.  The policeman in charge, Cpt. Daniel Sullivan, is an attractive descendent of what is known as the "black Irish," and he takes a keen interest in Molly's connection to the murder.  After finally being released to enter NYC, Molly takes her two charges and meets their father.  Her living arrangements at the father's cousin's apartment are precarious at best and don't last long.  With the arrest of one of Molly's friends from onboard the ship to America as the murder suspect, Molly's challenges in starting a new life become complicated.  Searching for the real murderer to clear her friend's name, trying to find employment, and needing a place to live all converge on Molly at once.  She has her work cut out for her in this new world.  Luckily, Molly Murhpy is one plucky gal, and she meets challenges head on with determination and strength.  

Rhys Bowen has created a character-driven series that I am delighted to have finally started reading.  I love the wit and steely resolve that Molly Murphy exhibits.  She is such a captivating personality, bringing fresh air to all she encounters.  Of course, for Captain Daniel Sullivan, Molly often brings exasperation along, too.  Following Molly navigate the streets of New York City to solve murders and make a life for herself is a journey I look forward to in the continuing books of this series.  

A Lack of Temperance (Hattie Davish Mystery, #1)A Lack of Temperance by Anna Loan-Wilsey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best aspects of reading for me is the introduction to new places and historical connections.  Anna Loan-Wilsey in her debut novel has given me both.  I admit that I wasn't overly excited with the setting being in Arkansas, as I didn't think I would be that interested in it, but Eureka Springs was fascinating.  That should teach me to make unsubstantiated locale judgements.  I found myself getting up out of bed the night I started reading it and using the computer to look up the area to better picture in my mind all the unusual street configurations and spring locations.  To my delight, the author has links and information on her page about Eureka, even a map of how it would have appeared in 1892, the time setting of the novel.  I do, however, wish that the map had been included in the book.  It would have been helpful in imagining Hattie Davish's, the main character, wanderings throughout the town.

Hattie Davish is a traveling secretary who arrives in Eureka to serve as secretary for Mother Trevelyan, president of the women's temperance movement.  Eureka is the site of the national meeting for the American Women's Temperance Coalition timed to coincide with a vote on Proposition 203 to criminalize the sale of alcohol.  Before Hattie can meet her new employer, the temperance leader is murdered.  A local bar owner is charged with the murder, but Hattie doesn't believe he is guilty and sets out to do some investigating on her own.  With her meticulous eye for detail and order, she uses her typewriter to keep track of events and people, compiling a list of questions to try and connect the dots.  She becomes acquainted with some interesting characters during her query, the delightful older sisters, Lucy and Lizzie, and the charming Dr. Walter Grice.  Secrets are buried deep in this historical mystery, and Hattie encounters much personal risk, but she is as diligent in the undertaking of detective work as she is in her secretarial duties.  She even discovers a few things about herself in the process.

Anna Loan-Wilsey has written an interesting, engaging historical mystery that left me looking forward to the next installment of the Hattie Davish series.  1892 turned out to be a very good year.  
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