The Ghost of Christmas Past is the 17th book in Rhys Bowen’s Molly Murphy mystery series. I am a big fan of Rhys Bowen, and I have read many (although not all) of the Molly Murphy books. I was definitely excited about the opportunity to read this book.

Molly is trying to recover from some sad news that she received at the end of the last book. She and her husband Daniel think that spending Christmas at a swanky Westchester mansion is just the thing they need to lift their spirits. Upon arrival, they learn that the family suffered a tragic loss when their daughter disappeared ten years ago. There was never any ransom note, nor was any trace of the girl ever discovered. Naturally, Molly wants to investigate, but there are strange things afoot, and strange occurrences too.

I must admit that I was a tad skeptical about this book because we just had a Molly Christmas story recently, and we have also had a Molly book involving a child kidnapped from a mansion. However, Bowen takes these themes to new places. Even when I thought I knew where the story was going, there was a plot twist, and then two more new twists on top of that. I was definitely surprised several times, and I had trouble stopping at the end of a chapter because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next.

Fans of the series will appreciate appearances from beloved secondary characters. I was very nervous because the beginning of the book seems to indicate that a great deal of change is in the air, and this had me worried for the whole book, but I was pleased with the way things ended.

I would recommend The Ghost of Christmas Past to fans of historical mystery. I do think readers would benefit from reading at least a couple other Molly Murphy mysteries before reading this one; it helps to have some familiarity with the characters and their backgrounds. This was a fairly somber mystery, although the Molly Murphy books to tend to be a little more serious that Bowen’s Royal Spyness books. That said, the Christmas theme works well here, and I like how it was incorporated throughout the book. I am already looking forward to the next book in the series, and I will have to catch up on the books I have missed in the meantime!


I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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