Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review: In Dublin's Fair City by Rhys Bowen (Molly Murphy #6)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Riveting historical plot
Cons: The mystery
The Bottom Line:
Entertaining read
Mystery sidelined by the
Other drama, though

You Can't Go Home Again

When we first met Molly Murphy, she was on the run from the authorities in her native Ireland for killing a man. Never mind the fact that she had been fighting off his unwanted advances at the time. She managed to flee to 1901 New York City where she has established a new life for herself as a female detective. She has an on again off again relationship with police captain Daniel Sullivan. But In Dublin's Fair City, book six in the mystery series, offers her a shocking chance to do something she never thought she'd be able to do.

When Molly ran away from Ireland with a price on her head, she figured she could never go back. But now she's been offered just that chance. Theatrical producer Tommy Burke wants to hire Molly to return to Ireland and find his long lost sister, left behind 50 years ago when the family fled the potato famine. Since Daniel's trouble from the last book hasn't been resolved completely yet, he's taken to moping around Molly and driving her crazy. As always, she needs the money, so she decides to risk it. Surely she can slip in and out again without being noticed.

Molly really should have known that would never work. When she boards the ship, she gets an offer to switch places with famous actress Oona Sheehan. She can hardly turn down extra cash and a chance to travel first class. But then she finds a body and Oona disappears before they can switch back. Now she's the chief suspect in the murder. Can she clear her name and find the missing woman without being connect to the previous warrant for her arrest?

I've really come to care for Molly and look forward to each new entry in the series, but this one was a disappointment. The problem is not in the characters. Molly is her normal entertaining self, and I didn't miss her colorful New York friends as much as I thought I would. The writing style is still clean, making for an easy read.

The trouble came with the mystery plot. The story takes a little too long to get going. Once again, Molly relies on luck as much as detective skill. The ending, while logical, is abrupt and not satisfying.

What saves the book is the historical saga. I love a novel that can bring another place and time to life, and this book does. The mystery is really just an excuse to get Molly back to Ireland and into this historical plot. And yes, I am being vague here because I don't want to give anything away. The sub-plot takes over the later portion of the novel, but anyone who cares for Molly will definitely want to stick around and see how it ends. And, for fun, a young James Joyce makes a cameo at one point in the story.

As a mystery, I give this book 3 stars, but as a historical novel, I give it 5. If you aren't already familiar with Molly, start with the earlier books before picking In Dublin's Fair City up.

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