Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen (Molly Murphy #17)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and mystery
Cons: A little slow getting started
The Bottom Line:
Christmas mystery
Disappearance from years past
Great to see Molly

Molly Finds a Decade Old Christmas Mystery

It’s been a long wait for this visit from The Ghost of Christmas Past.  You see, this is the seventeenth book in the Molly Murphy series, and that previous book came out in March of 2016.  Since things in Molly’s life were up in the air at the end of that book, I couldn’t wait to see what was happening in her life.

December 1906 finds Molly at the end of a hard year; a year of uncertainty and loss.  And it doesn’t look like it will be getting any better since word has just come that Bridie’s father, who no one has heard from in a couple of years, is alive and coming to claim his daughter.  Molly has come to love her ward, and is going to miss Bridie’s help with Molly’s two-year-old son.

Molly is surprised when her mother-in-law gets all of them invited to a house party on the Hudson River for Christmas.  While she hopes it might distract from everything going on in her life, Molly arrives to find a weird tension in the air.  Then she learns that a child disappeared from this house just a few days before Christmas ten years ago.  While Molly’s husband, New York police Sergeant Daniel Sullivan, doesn’t think they have any hope of finding a clue about what happened, Molly begins a discrete investigation.  Can she solve the crime after all these years?

This is now the second Christmas mystery we’ve gotten with Molly, but since the previous one was set in New York City, it was nice to get outside the city and see some different traditions.  However, just as Molly finds the house melancholier than she was expecting, there is a bit of seriousness that hangs over the book.  This isn’t a light Christmas entry.  It makes a contrasting tone that really works.

As is usually the case with a Rhys Bowen book, we spent a little time catching up with the series regulars and getting everyone into place before the story really took off.  Once it did, I was fully hooked.  Several twists took me by surprise, and I couldn’t put the book down.  Literally.  The instant I got off work, I sat in my car to finish the book, and I had about 60 pages to go.

Of course, it helps that I love these characters.  I’ve been reading the series since the beginning, and they are old friends.  Well, most of them.  I get that Daniel is a product of his time, but I am truly getting tired of his attitude to Molly’s investigations.  I don’t expect him to encourage her, but he feels like a he hasn’t grown much over the course of the series.  On the other hand, we get a house full of new characters, and they are fully fleshed out, making us feel more as events unfold.

It truly was good to revisit Molly in The Ghost of Christmas Past.  It’s another fantastic visit to the 1900’s.

Enjoy more visits with the rest of the Molly Murphy Mysteries.


  1. I felt exactly the same way about the pros and one con - which was easy to get past.

    Happy holidays!

  2. I haven't tried this series yet. I need to check it out.

  3. With so many good choices out there, this one really calls to me - both the story and the gorgeous cover.
    Hope you have a merry Christmas, Mark! (with all your water damage fixed soon)

  4. I like the sound of quite a lot of this series but I think one of the reasons I haven't started it is because of what I've read about Daniel. I love the premise here though so maybe I should take a chance since the rest of it sounds so great.

  5. I haven't gotten that far in the series yet, but will be looking forward to this, maybe for next Christmas. Hope you have a great Christmas!