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Posts Tagged ‘Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles’

WILD IRISH ROSE by Rhys Bowen and Clare Broyles: Book Review

As many as four and a half million Irish arrived in the United States between 1820 and 1930, and, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Molly Murphy was one of them.  Fleeing a false murder charge, she landed in Manhattan and, like many others, fought her way out of poverty and into a better life through a variety of jobs.

At the time of Wild Irish Rose, which takes place in 1907, Molly is happily married to New York City Police Detective Daniel Sullivan, and they are the devoted parents of young Liam and guardians of teenage Bridie.  Not that Molly resents being a housewife, but it simply isn’t as exciting as running a private investigation agency, which is what she did in her single life.  But being a private detective isn’t possible for a young mother.  Or is it?

When Molly finds out that her two best friends, Gus and Sid, are collecting warm clothing for recent arrivals to New York City via Ellis Island, she’s eager to join them.  That’s where she landed several years earlier, and she’s anxious to revisit it, so she and Bridie join Gus and Sid in a car filled with clothing for the immigrants and head toward the Island.

In the crush of people Bridie gets separated from the others for a few minutes, and when she gets back to them she explains that she had been following a woman she’d mistakenly thought was Molly.  She was Molly’s height, Bridie says, and had “bright red hair, pale skin, and freckles.”  Then, when the woman turns around, Bridie realizes her mistake and makes her way back to Molly.

When Daniel comes home, he tells his wife about his day.  He was on Ellis Island, and “there was a man found murdered on the island today.  And the woman who is the prime suspect looks exactly like you.”

That is just the impetus that Molly needs to begin investigating, convinced, even without knowing her, that her look-alike could not be guilty of murder.  The next day she locates the woman, who is named Rose McSweeny, an immigrant from Galway.  Daniel can hardly believe that Molly managed to find the woman the police had been looking for without success, and at first he doesn’t believe her explanation.  When she tells him about the logical progression along the Lower East Side of Manhattan that led her to Rose, Daniel is less proud than angry.

“What am I going to do with you, Molly?  If you weren’t a woman, you would have been a great detective,” he tells her.  Naturally, that makes Molly even more determined to help Rose prove her innocence, and she works out a compromise with the promise that she will not put herself in danger.  “Unless it is absolutely necessary,” she adds silently.

As Molly explains to her husband, “Could one of your men have done what I did today?  Being a woman was an advantage.”  Recognizing the truth of his wife’s statement, Daniel reluctantly agrees that Molly can continue her investigation.  And thus her search to prove Rose innocent goes on.

This is the eighteenth novel in the Molly Murphy series and the first co-written by Rhys Bowen and her daughter Clare Broyles.  They are an excellent team, making New York City shortly after the turn of the 20th century come alive.

You can read more about this mother and daughter pair at and

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.