Murphy’s Law is the first book in the Molly Murphy mystery series. Molly Murphy, the main character in this story, is a spunky 19th-century Irish heroine. Molly always ends up in trouble no matter where she goes. She is an outspoken, strong, independent lady. She commits a murder in self-defense, so she has to leave her cherished Ireland and her identity for the unknown shores of America.
In London she meets Kathleen O’Connor. Kathleen has two small children, and tickets for a ship to America where she plans to join her husband. But because she has tuberculosis and knows that she will not be allowed on the ship, she persuades the desperate Molly to take her children to America, using her ticket and her identity on the ship. Molly agrees to this plan since she wants to be in a new place and start a new life.
The ocean trip is not comfortable, and on top of that, she has to fend off unwelcome attentions of the mean troublemaker O’Malley, who seems to have known the real Kathleen. He threatens to expose Molly’s true identity in America.
After the landing at Ellis Island, O’Malley is found stabbed to death. Police detective Daniel Sullivan questions Molly about the stabbing since several people saw Molly slap O’Malley on the ship. Molly becomes the prime suspect along with a young man whom she has befriended. She decides to investigate the murder case of O’Malley to clear herself and her friend.
Finding her way through a vivid, Tammany Hall-era New York, Molly struggles to prove her innocence, facing one dangerous situation after another. She becomes a house help for a big politician to solve the mystery. She almost gets killed after finally discovering the true identity of the murderer.
This is a historical mystery, fast paced and richly detailed. Rhys Bowen has also written some other cozy mysteries series including Constable Evan Mysteries and Royal Spyness mysteries. Constable Evan Mysteries are very similar to Hamish Macbeth mysteries written by M. C. Beaton.