After committing a murder in self-defense in Ireland, feisty Molly Murphy flees to the harsh streets of New York Citys lower East Side. There, alone and destitute, she is drawn into another murder she is forced to solve. Bowen gives us solid descriptions of turn of the century immigrant life as Molly crosses the ocean in steerage, navigates Ellis Island clearances, finds limited, demeaning work, and lives in a crowded and unsanitary tenement. Bowens following stories, Death of Riley and For the Love of Mike, are equally historically descriptive, bringing Molly into the world of Tammany Hall politicians, Washington Square bohemians, Emma Goldmans anarchists, and upper Park Avenue elites. All Bowens stories are exciting and move along at a clip. Improbably, however, she gives her heroine too much to do in each exhausting day. Resourceful Molly manages, but must do so by rushing from one event to another, often traveling on foot through the citys long streets. More credible is Bowens presentation of the multiple obstacles Molly faces in her desire to become New York Citys first female private investigator.
This is the first in the Molly Murphy series.