City of Darkness and Light by Rhys Bowen

I first discovered Rhys Bowen when I read one of her Royal Spyness mysteries. After tearing through all eight of the Royal Spyness mysteries, I turned my attention to her Molly Murphy mysteries. This series takes place in New York City during the early years of the 20th century and features a plucky young Irish American woman named Molly Murphy.

City of Darkness and Light is the thirteenth Molly Murphy mystery. By this point, Molly has married handsome police captain Daniel Sullivan, and their son Liam is a healthy and happy baby. When their home is attacked, Daniel sends Molly and Liam to Paris to keep them safe. Molly is excited about the prospect of staying with her friends Sid and Gus, who are having a grand adventure. But when she arrives in the city, the ladies are not in their rented apartment. As Molly, who became ill during the crossing, struggles to find her way in an unfamiliar city, she becomes involved with investigating the murder of a famous artist. Molly finds herself with two mysteries to solve- can she find her friends and catch a ruthless criminal?

I enjoyed reading this mystery. Setting the book in Paris rather than New York City provided a refreshing change of scenery. Molly is savvy, and her sense of intuition is unparalleled, but being in a foreign country where she doesn’t know anyone is something that she hasn’t experienced since her days as an immigrant. This is initially a setback, but Molly has faced adversity before, and is determined to succeed.

Setting the story in Paris also gave Molly a convenient excuse for continuing her sleuthing. She had promised Daniel that she would give up detective work when she got married, so having him on a different continent enabled Molly to work without having to resort to deception or sneaking around.

Rhys Bowen always infuses her stories with actual historical events. This book captures the vibrant Parisian art scene and Molly Murphy interacts with several famous artists. Paris is also embroiled in the controversy over the Dreyfus Affair, which has divided the city.

I would recommend City of Darkness and Light. The Molly Murphy mysteries are a delightful series, but the books can be read in any order. Bowen does a good job of providing enough background information to familiarize a new reader with the characters. The mystery element of the story is well done, and although I had suspicions regarding the criminal, I was still surprised by the outcome. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Molly Murphy mysteries, especially the newest episode, which is coming out later this year!

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