Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Mysteries 1)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Mysteries)

:Teaser:
Molly is on the run from authorities in Ireland for a murder she committed in self-defense. Just when she thought that her luck was running out, she finds a way onto a ship that is traveling across the ocean to New York City. Unfortunately when she arrives she is greeted by more trouble.  A man that Molly was seen fighting with on the ship is brutally murdered and all the evidence points to her as being involved.  To clear her name, she must find the real murderer or risk being sent back to Ireland.

:Short Thought:
Gives the reader a window into early 1900s New York City through the eyes of the ever-witty Molly Murphy.  Great mystery with wonderful characters.  I loved it!

:Expanded Thoughts:
(No Spoilers)

Let me first say that I know next to nothing about this period of American history (early 1900s), the city of New York, (other than what I've seen on Law & Order), or Irish History. So, I can't really say much about the historical elements or the portrayal of the city in the novel or the historical accuracy or anything of the like. All I can say is, despite my blaring ignorance, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and was excited to learn more about these things while immersing myself in a great storyline.

Murphy's Law has a great cast of characters. The star at the center is Miss Molly Murphy. She is a true force of nature and is decades ahead of her time. She is truly delightful and makes makes each scene pop with very refreshing energy as she faces the issues of this period head-on. Molly adds dimension to the setting of the novel. Using her, New York City is shown through the eyes of a true newcomer. It is a huge contrast from Molly's country Irish home. She shares her experience as she stands in awe of the sights that come with this fast-developing place and struggles to make her way.  It is a city that never sleeps and a place full of new opportunities and dangers.

If, like me, you don't really know anything about this period or city, you don't need to worry because Molly and the people she meets makes this a wonderful, engaging mystery.


:Additional Notes:

Murphy's Law is the first book in Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy Mysteries series. As of this post, the other books available in this series, in order, are:

Clockwork Heart

Friday, June 25, 2010

Clockwork Heart

:Teaser:
    Taya serves as an Icarus, a metal winged courier, in Yeovil. Yeovil is split into sectors that have their own unique castes and cultures. On the day of her sister's wedding, she hurries to deliver her last package of the day. On her way, she prevents a major accident from claiming the lives of two very important people--the wife and child of a very high profile official. This changes her life as she gets swept up in the dangerous and peculiar affairs of the high-class.

:Short Thought:
Great unique setting. Perfectly paced adventure mystery. Wonderful, well-developed characters. Definitely one of my favorites!

:Expanded Thoughts:
(No Spoilers)
In Clockwork Heart, the author creates a unique setting that on the surface is nothing like our own. Through it, the author gives us a unique way in which to explore several social topics, and one cannot help but draw inward and environmental comparisons.  In Yeovil, the country where it takes place, there are strict social castes and peculiar customs that are brought to life by a cast of very enjoyable characters to whom it is easy to relate.

Taya's, the main character, country is split into very segregate and socially immobile sectors.  Each sector has its own unique characteristics that have been shaped by its residents.  The skilled laborers of the low class mainly reside in Tertius whose air is filled smoke and whose building tops are covered with soot and other debris.  For the Exalted of the high class, there is the beautiful capital sector, Onidinium, which is a stark contrast to the dirty streets of Tertius.  Other than their place of residence, customs are in place that further distinguish the members of the classes, such as, clothing, manner of speech, and color of hair and skin.

Very rarely do people pass between the sectors, but there are a couple exceptions.  The Lictors (police) and the Icarii (winged couriers) have the privilege of being outside of this strict structure.  (Though, they still have to treat the Exalted with extra care and respect.) Their occupations require them to perform duties for all citizens within the different sectors without prejudice. 

The setting was undeniably one of the things I loved about the story, but the main reason I keep reading this over and over is the characters and their interactions.  The author does a great job at developing the characters throughout and having each to have unique inner dilemmas. No character ends up the same as they started. Or, in more dramatic fashion: nothing is ever as is seems.

Taya is in an interesting position as the main character.  She was born of low class parents and worked hard to become an Icarus, thus moving up a level on the social ladder.  Even after she gets her new position, she still has the rules of her upbringing engraved into her mind.  She is very conscious of  social appearances and still uses strict manners in front of the exalted.  This slowly begins to change after the Exalted woman she saves invites her to a formal dance and gives her an opening into the lives of this exclusive class.  This begins to change her view as what she sees isn't a group of divine beings above reproach, but people that are painfully human.  Through this she gives the reader a unique perspective into this society that few in the story could.

This is further explored through the interactions between Taya and the Forlore brothers--Alister and Cristof.  Alister is the exalted younger brother who took a position as an official in the government.  He is very charming and revels in his high status.  Cristof has left the exalted life and all of its perks behind and opened a clock maker's shop in one of the seedier parts of town.   His sour attitude and lack of manners reflects his disheveled outward appearance.  Through them, Taya begins to learn that there is much more to people than their appearance and social status.  There is always something lurking beneath the surface, and sometimes it turns out to be very dangerous.
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