I first discovered Rhys Bowen when I read her Royal Spyness mystery series. Since I have finished reading all the books in that series, I have moved on to her Molly Murphy series. I have been reading the series out of order, and have now read the five most recent Molly Murphy stories. These mysteries take place at the beginning of the twentieth century, and feature an intrepid young woman who has wonderful intuition, and continuously finds herself in predicaments that require a mystery to be solved.
In Hush Now, Don’t You Cry, Molly and her new husband Daniel Sullivan are traveling to Newport for a belated honeymoon. A New York City alderman- Brian Hanna- has graciously invited them to stay on his summer estate. Even though it is October, the Sullivans are happy to escape the city and have some time to themselves.
But as soon as they arrive, the Sullivans are thrown into one confusing situation after another. No one is there to greet them, and they must spend the night in the stable. When they are shown to the guest cottage, they realize that Hanna has invited his entire family to the estate for the same weekend. And when Brian Hanna is found dead at the bottom of a seaside cliff before anyone sees him arrive, suspicion shifts to Molly and Daniel. After all, the only one who can corroborate their story of being invited by Hanna has just been found dead. It is up to Molly to figure out what happened to Hanna. Who would have wanted him dead?
Now, Molly had promised to give up detective work after she married Daniel. It is interesting to see the ways in which she gets around this. Daniel spends most of the book suffering from a variety of ailments stemming from the night spent in the stable. With Daniel out of commission, Molly is free to interview people and ferret out a motive.
The historical setting adds rich layers to the story. For instance, even though the Hanna family had built a grand home in Newport, they were nouveau riche and were shunned by old money families like the Astors. It was also very interesting that fingerprinting was seen as new technology; I’ve now seen Molly mention in several of the stories that fingerprints are not admissible in court. Small details like this are not integral to the plot, but they serve as a reminder of how much progress we have made in the fields of criminology and technology since Molly’s day. Information is much easier to obtain nowadays, and it makes Molly’s intuition and powers of deduction much more impressive knowing that she can’t simply Google the answer to a query.
I would absolutely recommend Hush Now, Don’t You Cry. The mystery started out slower, and there was a sense of confusion throughout the first part of the book, but once things picked up, it was very satisfying. I am sure that there would be a certain sense of satisfaction from reading the books in chronological order, but this is not necessary. As I have mentioned, I have not read the books in order, but I have still enjoyed each of them. Bowen provides just enough background information to be able to figure out relationships between characters without having to read previous books. Of course, once you discover the Molly Murphy mysteries, you’ll want to read them all!