DUBLIN'S FAIR CITY is the latest book in Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy
mystery series. The book's heroine, a private investigator, is an
Irish immigrant living in New York City at the turn of the 20th
century. She is an independent and clever young woman with a secret
--- and a knack for solving mysteries. Because of her reputation as
a successful "lady detective," she is sought out by Tommy
Burke is an Irish immigrant who, decades earlier, survived passage
on a famine ship and arrived in the United States with nothing. Now
a self-described "self-made man" with lots of money but no
children, Burke recently learned from his mother --- on her
deathbed ---that he may have a sister back in Ireland. Mary Ann was
left behind because she was too sick to make the voyage to America.
When Molly accepts Burke's assignment to return to her native land
and search for Mary Ann, the story --- and Molly's adventure ---
Shortly after Molly boards the Majestic ocean liner and
settles in her second-class cabin, a steward delivers a note from
the beautiful Irish-American Broadway actress, Oona Sheehan, who is
a friend of Burke's. In the note Oona invites Molly to her
first-class cabin, where she has "a matter to discuss."
To safeguard her privacy during the voyage, Oona asks Molly to
trade places with her, and she gives Molly a check for $100 for her
trouble. In exchange, Molly agrees not to leave Oona's cabin,
except in rare instances, and only when disguised as the actress.
Molly, Oona and the maid, Rose, are the only ones in on the
The ruse appears to work, but after several days at sea, Molly
grows tired of being cooped up in Oona's cabin. The night before
the ship docks, Molly learns about a costume ball, which she
decides to attend disguised as Marie Antoinette. After returning to
the first-class cabin, Molly discovers Rose's body. Molly summons
the ship's authorities, who become skeptical when she explains why
she is occupying Oona's cabin, especially after they determine that
the actress is not aboard the ship. To prove her innocence, Molly
relies on her wits and detection skills.
Rose's death and the actress's mysterious disappearance are only
the beginning of Molly's troubles. Ashore in Ireland, her search
for Mary Ann Burke turns up one dead end after another.
Complicating matters, Molly keeps bumping into men from the ship
and is sure one of them means her harm.
Then there's the matter of Oona's luggage, which Molly has been
instructed to safeguard until it is picked up. After Molly
accidentally opens one of the cases, she discovers a hidden cache
of weapons that she assumes are destined for the freedom fighters.
Even more shocking is the appearance of Molly's brother, Liam, who
comes to collect the baggage and then flees after Molly calls out
Despite disappointing setbacks, and more encounters from the Irish
underground, Molly continues her search for Mary Ann, but the
secret she thought was buried when she fled Ireland continues to
haunt her. As she becomes entangled with the freedom fighters,
Molly is called upon to make a decision that could jeopardize her
life, as well as the lives of her loved ones.
The engaging character of Molly Murphy, the
turn-of-the-20th-century setting and descriptions, and the cameo
appearances of some famous Irishmen --- including James Joyce and
Oscar Wilde --- make IN DUBLIN'S FAIR CITY an entertaining
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 22, 2011