Sunday, March 3, 2013

Book Review: Oh Danny Boy by Rhys Bowen (Molly Murphy #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great plot, real characters, setting comes alive
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
A trip back in time
Molly tries to free Daniel
Book is wonderful

Outstanding Fifth Entry

Oh Danny Boy is the fifth entry in the Molly Murphy mystery series. Molly is an Irish immigrant during the turn of the last century who has set her sights on becoming a private investigator. This book is set in August of 1902.

Molly is frustrated with her life in New York City. Being a detective isn't going well and she is having a hard time paying the bills. Plus, after her last encounter with police captain Daniel Sullivan, she wants nothing more to do with this potential love interest. She's seriously considering moving out west and becoming a schoolteacher, much to her friends' dismay.

Then she finds out rather dramatically that Daniel has been arrested and is being held in the notorious Tombs prison. He's been accused of accepting a bribe, and the new police commissioner just happened to be on the scene to witness it. Of course, the charge is laughable. Daniel is one of the few people on the police force who would never accept a bribe. With most of the force turned against him, his only hope of proving his innocence is Molly. She reluctantly takes the case.

After several false starts, Molly begins to suspect that these false charges might be related to one of two cases he was working at the time. The first involves a doped horse at the racetrack on Coney Island. The second is far more dangerous and involves a serial killer murdering prostitutes in the East Side. Either case is sure to put Molly in grave danger. Will she find the proof she needs? Will she live to free Daniel?

As if this weren't enough, Molly is having some health problems. And Daniel's ex-fiancee shows up requesting a favor from Molly. What's Arabella up to?

My biggest frustration with these books has been the fact that Molly sometimes seems to stumble on the answer with little more then luck. I couldn't help but laugh as Molly herself discusses this fact several times over the course of the book.

This is easily the best entry in the series. Several storylines weave together to form a logical conclusion. I only pieced everything together a couple pages before Molly did, and she did an excellent job of piecing things together herself, reversing the trend from previous entries. Even friends Sid and Gus get into the act, helping Molly with Arabella's request for a little while. As always these neighbors provide some wonderful comic and tender moments. They continue to show their love for Molly, and it easily endears them to the reader.

Daniel gets softened a bit here through his ordeal. Molly seems ready to move on with him, but I'm not quite sure I've forgiven him for how he's treated Molly in the past.

The other characters in the novel are well drawn as well. New characters like Gentlemen Jack and Sabella Goodwin not only provide the needed story points, but also help recreate Molly's world. The scenes with Arabella are especially good; I wouldn't mind seeing her character again.

The city itself plays a large roll in the story. Rhys Bowen brings the New York City of 1902 to vivid life. The sights, sounds, and smells made me feel like I was in the muggy summer weather right along side Molly. The first person narration only enhances this feeling, and the smooth writing style is easy to read.

This series has only gotten stronger with each entry. Don't hesitate to pick up Oh Danny Boy to be transported to another time and place.

And if you want to watch the characters develop, check out the Molly Murphy Mysteries in order.

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