I received a copy of the Audible edition of Time of Fog and Fire in exchange for an honest review.
I am a big fan of Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy mysteries, and I have listened to the audiobook versions of some of them. I have enjoyed my previous experiences, so I was excited about the opportunity to listen to Time of Fog and Fire.
Molly (Murphy) Sullivan has halfheartedly tried to put her detective work behind her in the years following her marriage and the birth of her son, but there is always a mystery to be solved. An acquaintance insists that she has seen her husband in a newsreel featuring San Francisco, but he had no plans to be in San Francisco. Molly agrees to watch the newsreel, and is shocked to see her own Daniel in the newsreel as well. Molly knows Daniel is on assignment, but he is not supposed to be in San Francisco either. As if that were not odd enough, Molly receives an odd letter from Daniel saying things that seem very out of character.
Our intrepid heroine picks up her baby, packs her bags, and takes a series of trains westward in search of her husband. She receives some surprising news upon her arrival, no one seems to know what is going on, and then disaster strikes- the infamous 1906 earthquake that destroyed the city.
There is not as much of a mystery element as some of the other books in the series. This is fine with me; Bowen does such a lovely job with characterization and world building that it was just as enjoyable to see Molly having to contend with the situations that spring up over the course of the story. The minor mysteries do seem to be resolved a little too quickly, but this is okay because Molly does not devote too much time to solving them in the first place. I was curious about one particular plot element; I can’t discuss the particulars without revealing spoilers, but it left me curious about the woman’s motivations: were her motivations sinister or was she acting out of desperation? And why would she lie when questioned directly?
I especially enjoyed listening to Time of Fog and Fire. Nicola Barber brings Molly to life with a soft Irish lilt. She uses a full range of character voices with a variety of accents to round out the rest of the story. Her emotional range adds a sense of suspense; the confusion or trepidation in her voice leaves the listener knowing exactly how Molly feels.
I would recommend Time of Fog and Fire. Bowen has inserted Molly into other historical situations in previous books, and it’s always interesting to see Molly’s reaction. The entries in the Molly Murphy series function well as standalones, but readers might want to read some of the other books before tackling this one; Molly is away from home and out of her element for most of the book, so she does not have many interactions with the many “regular” characters who make frequent appearances in the books. Molly fans will enjoy seeing a favorite heroine making sense of the chaos, and trying to persevere. I am already looking forward to Molly’s next adventure!