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Oh Danny Boy (Molly Murphy Series #5)

Oh Danny Boy (Molly Murphy Series #5)

4.5 28
by Rhys Bowen

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Oh Danny Boy marks Edgar Award finalist Rhys Bowen's triumphant fifth installment in the award-winning Molly Murphy mystery series.


Oh Danny Boy marks Edgar Award finalist Rhys Bowen's triumphant fifth installment in the award-winning Molly Murphy mystery series.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Agatha-winner Bowen's entertaining if imperfect fifth Molly Murphy mystery (after 2005's In Like Flynn), the feisty Irish lass, who has immigrated to New York City and become a PI, comes to the rescue of someone very near and dear to her, NYPD cop Daniel Sullivan. Daniel's been accused of taking a bribe, but Molly is sure he's innocent. Before his arrest, Daniel was trying to track down the East Side Ripper, a prostitute-murdering brute. Molly suspects someone wanted Daniel off the case and set him up. While trying to prove Daniel's innocence, Molly realizes that their one night of passion has left her pregnant. She contemplates an abortion, but can't go through with it. If the solution to Molly's predicament is a predictable cop-out, Bowen deserves kudos for her recreation of early 20th-century New York. She avoids the temptation to give cameos to every famous figure of the day, but those she does work in-like New York's first "lady policeman"-are wonderfully chosen. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Murder, mayhem, disease and death: just another summer season in turn-of-the-century New York. Private eye Molly Murphy (In Like Flynn, 2005, etc.) has lost faith in Daniel Sullivan, but not her love for the NYPD captain. So when he begs Molly for help after his jailing on trumped-up corruption charges, Molly asks who hates Daniel enough to set him up. His wealthy ex-fiancee Arabella Norton, who insists she doesn't feel vindictive, entreats Molly to investigate the disappearance of her closest friend, Letitia Blackwell. Because she can find no personal vendetta that accounts for Daniel's arrest, Molly pokes into his last two cases, a horse-doping at a Coney Island racetrack and the East Side Ripper murders. A chance meeting with Sabella Goodwin, a police matron who's also investigating the Ripper, enables them to join forces and gives Molly access to Sabella's credentials while the pair visit morgues, graveyards and relatives of missing girls in their dangerous search for the Ripper. They discover that the strangled and disfigured girls are not prostitutes-one is the missing Letitia-and that they all had a connection to Coney Island. Along the way, Molly finds that her unusual ennui is caused not by the sweltering heat but by her pregnancy. Reliable period thrills for Molly's fans. A bonus is the introduction to historic personage Sabella Goodwin, who really was promoted to police detective in 1910.
From the Publisher

“If you are one of the few on the planet yet to discover Molly Murphy, created by Rhys Bowen, now is the time to take the plunge. Molly is sassy, saucy, brave and smart.” —The Huffington Post

“Entertaining…Molly Murphy is endearing, and her quick wit and sharp mind make her a protagonist to root for…Well written and fast paced, with a twist that will leave readers truly surprised. This novel is not to be missed.” —RT Book Reviews (4 stars) on The Edge of Dreams

“Once again Rhys Bowen proves why she's one of the great mystery writers working today...Atmospheric, tightly plotted, heart pounding, this is Bowen at her best.” —Louise Penny on City of Darkness and Light

Product Details

Cengage Gale
Publication date:
Molly Murphy Series , #5
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
6.02(w) x 8.48(h) x 1.13(d)

Read an Excerpt

Oh Danny Boy

By Rhys Bowen

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2006 Rhys Bowen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-0176-5


New York, August 1902

There was that maniacal laughter again. I looked around, but I couldn't detect where it was coming from. It seemed to be part of the very darkness itself. Black water lapped up at me as I stepped onto the iron lacework of a walkway. I thought I could hear a child's voice calling, "Save me, save me," and I started toward it. But beneath me were other faceless forms, and they held up white arms to me, calling out, "Help us first."

The laughter grew louder until it was overwhelming. I started to run. Water splashed up at my feet and when I looked down at my shoes they were black. That's when I noticed it wasn't water at all. It was blood.

I woke with my heart pounding and sat up, my hands grasping the cool reality of the sheet before I realized I was in my own room. I sat still for a while, conscious of the empty quiet of the house around me, wondering what the dream might mean. It was the third time I had dreamed it this week. The first time I'd put it down to an exotic Mongolian meal at my friends' house across Patchin Place (they were into a nomad phase at the moment), but dreaming the same thing three times must mean more than just plain indigestion.

Back in Ireland dreams were always taken seriously. My mother would have been able to interpret mine for me in a wink, although I rather think her interpretation would be influenced by the fact that I was rude, didn't mind my elders, and was heading for a bad end. But I recall the women sitting around in our cottage over a cup of tea, debating whether dreaming of a black cow meant future wealth or a death in the family. What would they say about an ocean of blood? I shuddered and wrapped my arms around myself.

My life had certainly been in turmoil since I had returned from my assignment on the Hudson, but I couldn't think what could have sparked such a terrifying nightmare. There was my frightening ordeal in the river, of course. That might have prompted me to dream of water. And I had almost lost little Bridie O'Connor to typhoid. She was still far from well and had been sent to a camp for sickly city children in Connecticut, run by the ladies at the settlement house on Sixth Avenue. Was it her voice I had heard in the dream? Had she been calling for me to come to her? Should I have gone to the country to be with her?

I got up and walked across the landing, feeling the cold of the linoleum under my bare feet. I paused at what had been Bridie and Shamey's door, almost expecting to hear the children's regular breathing. But the only sound was the rhythmic ticking of the clock on the mantel downstairs. I shivered suddenly, although it was still midsummer and the night was warm. I went back to bed, but I was afraid to sleep again. It occurred to me that this was the first time in my life that I'd been alone in a building. Normally I would have been proud to be mistress of my own establishment, but at this moment all I felt was overwhelming loneliness. I sat hugging my knees to my chest, staring out of the window at the shadows dancing on the houses across the alleyway. When the first streaks of dawn showed in the sky I got up and made myself a cup of tea, drinking it with one eye on the front window until I saw my neighbor Gus go out to buy their breakfast rolls from the Clement Family Bakery around the corner on Sixth Avenue.

I dearly wanted company at the moment. I knew I was always welcome at their house, but my pride and disgust with my own weakness wouldn't let me barge in on them uninvited at this early hour or tell them about the dream. So I waited until Gus returned, opened my front door with the pretence of shaking out crumbs, then feigned delighted surprise at bumping into her. Of course she invited me in for breakfast, and of course I accepted.

"Look who I just found, Sid dear," Gus called as we went down the hall to their bright and airy kitchen. At this hour it was still cool. The French doors were open, and the sweet scent of honeysuckle competed with the enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Sid was standing at the stove, dressed this morning in an emerald green silk gentleman's smoking jacket and baggy black pants that looked as if they had come from a harem. The striking effect was completed with her black hair, which she wore straight and chin length, like a child's page-boy bob.

"Molly, my sweet. How good to see you. You're looking pale. Sit down and have some coffee and a hot roll." Sid gave me a beaming smile and started pouring thick, murky liquid into a small cup, then handed it to me. I took a sip, pretending, as always, that I liked my coffee to look and taste like East River sludge. Sid always insisted on Turkish coffee and French croissants in the morning. I'd no objections to the croissants, but I'd never learned to appreciate the coffee.

I sat in the chair that Gus had pulled out for me and accepted the still warm roll from her basket.

"And what were you doing up and about so bright and early this morning?" Gus asked.

"I didn't sleep so well last night." I was willing to confess to that much. "I just needed to get out of the house and breathe good fresh air."

"You're missing those O'Connors, that what's the matter with you," Gus said.

"I most certainly am not," I replied indignantly. "I've spent most of my life looking after someone else's children. I'm glad to be taking a break from them."

The knowing look that passed between Sid and Gus didn't escape me.

"And anyway, they'll be back soon enough when Bridie isquite recovered and healthy again," I went on. "She's making splendid progress, you know. And in the meantime, I'm doing some serious thinking about my future."

They looked at each other again, this time with amusement.

"Did you hear that, Gus? Serious thinking about her future. Will she be reconsidering the earnest Mr. Singer's proposal, do you think?"

I picked up The New York Times that had been lying on the table. "Would you be quiet, you two? Why should you of all people think that any young woman's future would automatically have to be linked to a marriage proposal? I have no intention of accepting any proposals, decent or indecent."

Then I opened the paper and buried myself in the advertisements page, ignoring their chuckles.

"How about Nebraska?" I looked up expectantly from the The Times and saw two bewildered faces staring at me.

"Nebraska?" Gus asked.

"Yes, listen to this. 'Schoolteacher needed for one-room schoolhouse. Start August. Must be unmarried, unencumbered, Christian, and of impeccable character. References required. Accommodation provided. Apply to the school board, Spalding, Nebraska.'" I paused and looked up again. My friends were still smiling.

"Dearest Molly, are you suggesting that you should become a schoolmarm in Nebraska?" Sid asked, pushing her bobbed hair back from her face.

"Why not?" I demanded. "Do you not think I'm up to life on the frontier? And where is Nebraska anyway?"

At this they both broke into merry laughter. Gus reached across to me and patted my hand. "You are priceless, my sweet," she said. "Who would make us laugh if we let you escape from our clutches?"

"And why this sudden desire for the frontier, anyway?" Sid looked up from spreading more apricot jam on a croissant.

"Because I've had enough of New York City. Life has become too complicated."

"And you think it would be less complicated having to kill grizzly bears with your Bible on the way to school each morning or having to fight off amorous pioneers in need of a wife?" Sid asked.

I put down the newspaper and sighed. "I don't know. I just want to make a new start somewhere faraway. Never have to see Daniel Sullivan's odious face again. Never have to convince myself that I don't want to marry Jacob Singer, however well behaved and earnest he is."

"One can accomplish both these things without going to Nebraska, I should have thought," Gus said. "If you've finally decided to give up this crazy notion of being a lady investigator, I'm sure we could help you make a new start in the city here. But if you insist on escaping, I'm sure I can come up with some connections in Boston for you, even if my own people don't want to know me anymore."

I looked at Gus's sweet, elfish face, framed in its pile of soft, light brown curls, and finally smiled. "You're really too good to me by half. I don't deserve your friendship. I do nothing but interrupt your breakfast with my whining and complaining."

"Nonsense," Sid said. "Just think how dull and ordinary our lives would be without you."

Since Sid and Gus lead the least ordinary lives I had ever encountered, I had to smile at this. I suppose I should mention that their real names are Elena Goldfarb and Augusta Mary Walcott, of the Boston Walcotts. Both families had cut them off without a penny, but thanks to a generous inheritance from Gus's suffragist great-aunt, they lived a blissfully unconventional existence in Greenwich Village. Gus was attempting to make her mark as a painter, while Sid wrote the occasional left-wing article. Mostly they just had fun, hosting the literary and bohemian set to wild and extravagant parties. They had taken me under their wing when I had been new to the city and treated me as a spoiled younger sister ever since. As I looked at them I realized how I would hate to move away from their company.

"All right," I conceded grouchily, "maybe not Nebraska."

Sid went over to the stove and picked up the coffeepot. "Have another cup of coffee. You'll feel better," she said.

"I haven't finished this one yet," I said hastily.

"So let's see." Gus put down her own cup and stared across at Sid. "What sort of job should we find for her? Bookshop, do you think?"

"Too dreary. Not enough life."

"Ryan could help her get something to do with the theater. She'd like that."

"Ryan is unemployed and seriously short of funds himself at the moment."

"Well, if he will write plays that mock the American theatergoing public, what can he expect?"

I looked from one to the other, amused that I was not being consulted in this discussion.

"You don't understand," I finally cut in. "It's not the change of profession I'm anxious about. It's worrying about whether I'm going to find Daniel Sullivan lurking outside my front door every time I come out. Or Jacob for that matter."

"Jacob doesn't lurk, does he? He doesn't seem the type," Sid said.

"No," I conceded. "He's very well behaved as usual. Waiting patiently for my decision."

"And I don't think we've spotted Daniel lurking recently, have we?" Sid turned to Gus. "Not for the last few days anyway. Maybe he's given up in despair."

"He's still writing to me," I said. "At least a letter a day. I throw them all in the rubbish bin without opening them."

"I call that rather devoted," Gus said.

"Gus! We're talking about Daniel the Deceiver! The man possesses all the worst qualities of the male sex — untrustworthy, flirtatious, and an all-round bounder," Sid said fiercely. "He promises Molly he's broken off his engagement one day, and the next he goes running back to that spoiled Arabella creature as soon as she snaps her fingers. Molly is quite right to ignore him. And Jacob Singer, too. He may profess that he's no longer under the thumb of his family, but I know Jewish families, trust me."

Since she came from one, I did trust her.

"It's not only that," I said. "I don't want to marry just for convenience or security. There is just no spark with Jacob. He's a good man. He'll make some girl a good husband, only not me."

"Quite right," Sid said. "At least we're all in agreement that women don't need to attach themselves to a man to make them happy." She glanced up at Gus with a smile.

I got up and walked across to the French windows. The first fierce rays of summer sun were painting the brick wall behind the tiny square of garden. "I just wish I knew what I wanted," I said at last. "Part of the time I think I must be crazy to try and carry on the detective agency. But at least when I'm on a case I know I'm alive, and it's exciting."

"When you're not fighting for your life, getting yourself shot or drowned, or pushed off bridges," Gus said dryly.

I grinned. "So it's a little too exciting sometimes. But I can't see myself sitting behind a desk all day. Or being a governess to spoiled children, or a companion, for that matter. I can't think of what other job would give me pleasure or prevent me from bumping into Daniel."

"I don't see why you are so worried about bumping into Captain Sullivan," Sid said. "You're not usually a shrinking violet who avoids confrontation or hesitates to speak her mind, Molly. You've faced anarchists and gang members without flinching. Surely you're not afraid of a mere police captain?"

"Not afraid, no." I looked away to avoid meeting her eye. "I just lose all common sense when he's around. I know he'll try to sweet-talk me into forgiving him, and I'm afraid I'll be weak enough to listen to him."

"You're a strong, independent woman, Molly Murphy," Sid said firmly. "Face him, tell him what you think of him, and get it over with."

"You don't know Daniel. He has too much Irish blarney in him. This time I have resolved to be strong. Never seeing him again is the only way of accomplishing this. And I fear that involves leaving the city." I touched Gus's shoulder as I walked across the kitchen. "Thank you for the breakfast. I am quite revived and restored, and I'm off to look up Nebraska on the map."

I let myself out of their front door to the sounds of their renewed laughter. Then I paused, glanced down Patchin Place to make sure that it was devoid of life, before I sprinted across to my own front door opposite. This was no way to live, to be sure.

Silence engulfed me as I closed my front door behind me. No little high voice singing, no Shamey leaping down the stairs yelling, "Molly, I'm starving. Can I have some bread and dripping?"

My friends were right. I was missing the O'Connor children. I had felt myself encumbered by the O'Connors since I arrived in New York, but also responsible for them, since they had essentially saved my life. I had posed as their mother to bring them across from Ireland, when their own mother found that she was dying of consumption and not allowed to travel. Thus I had been able to escape Ireland with the police on my tail. So I could hardly abandon them. And the poor little mites with no mother, too. Seamus and young Shamey had gone to the country to be with Bridie during her recovery, Seamus hoping to find some kind of farmwork to support them.

As I stood lost in thought, there was a plop and the morning post landed on the doormat. I picked up two letters. The first, in Daniel's black, decisive hand, went straight in the rubbish bin. The second a childish scrawl I didn't recognize, liberally dotted with ink blots. I opened it and saw it was from the O'Connors.

Dear Molly,

My pa telled me to rite this as he don't rite so good. (Little Shamey had clearly not benefited overmuch from his recent schooling). We're doing fine here. Bridie is up and walking agin. Pa and me is camping out in a farmer's barn and, we're helping him with the harvest. You shud see me, Molly. I can lift great bales of hay jest like a man. Pa likes it so good out here, he says he don't want to go back to the city where there is sickness and gangs and all. He's trying to get a job all year on a farm. I wish you'd come out here and join us, Molly.

Then underneath in an even more illegible scrawl, "It don't seem the same without you, Molly. I know there's no question of love between us, but we get along fine, don't we, and the children already think of you as their mother."

I put down the paper hurriedly on the kitchen table. If I read this right, I now had three unwanted suitors. I wished I hadn't left The Times over at Number Nine. Nebraska was sounding better by the minute!


An hour later I had come to one big decision. I was not going to mope around feeling sorry for myself any longer. Sid was right. All my life I had been a fighter not a coward. I should face Daniel, once and for all. I was going to put last night's dream down to a sluggish liver and get on with my life. Having made this momentous decision, I decided to celebrate. Gus and Sid had been so good to me and I had imposed upon their generosity, giving little in return. So tonight I would cook them a grand dinner, as a thank-you. It would take my mind off things to keep myself occupied.

I wasn't going to try and compete with the exotic fare that they ate, but I decided that I couldn't go wrong with cold chicken and salad for a hot summer night. Chicken was a luxury I could ill afford at the moment, funds not being too plentiful. I hadn't had an assignment since I returned from the mansion on the Hudson, almost a month ago now. And I was still owed my fee for that assignment. But since Daniel Sullivan was the one who owed it to me, I'd rather starve than ask him for it. I suppose my behavior could be construed as childish, but this time I was resolved to be firm.


Excerpted from Oh Danny Boy by Rhys Bowen. Copyright © 2006 Rhys Bowen. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

RHYS BOWEN is the author of the Anthony and Agatha Award–winning Molly Murphy mysteries, the Edgar Award-nominated Evan Evans series, and the Royal Spyness series. Born in England, she lives in San Rafael, California.

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Oh Danny Boy (Molly Murphy Series #5) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
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Molly Murphy once again dazzles the reader with her wit and charm as she unravels yet another mystery.
ReadsalotSM More than 1 year ago
Really enjoy this series.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Rhys Bowen's, Molly Murphy series. I always look forward to reading about Molly's adventures in New York during the turn-of-the-century. I enjoy the way that Ms. Bowen incorporates historical characters into her stories. This time Ms. Bowen introduces us to police commissioner, John Partridge and Sabella Goodwin, the first woman to be appointed police detective. Unfortunately, this installment of the Molly Murphy series did not live up to the previous stories. It seemed to drag in places for me and the story did not start interesting me until about 150 pages into the novel. If this had been the first novel in the series I would have stopped reading it, but since I was familiar with many of the characters and liked previous installments I finished the book. Again, this wasn¿t the best novel in the series, but I would still recommend it to fans of Molly Murphy if, for no other reason, than to keep up with the character development.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Read the Molly Murphy mystery series...it doesn't matter which order you read them in, just read them!! The character is wonderful, the time period is extremely interesting and the supporting cast is terrific. I eagerly await the next book in this series, 'In Dublin's Fair City.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
With the publication of Oh Danny Boy, I learned about the Molly Murphy Mysteries and read them in order starting with Murphy's Law. Rhys Bowen has created a spunky feminist in turn of the (20th)century New York. Just arrived from Ireland Molly is immediately in the middle of a murder investigation that leads her to her 'career' as a private investigator. Bowen adds a wonderful cast of characters and makes them so realistic that you feel you know them. In her latest addition, Molly's love interest, police Captain Daniel Sullivan, asks her to investigate a case -- his own. He has been wrongfully imprisoned and no one -- not even his court appointed attorney -- is willing to help him. Molly's detective work puts her into contact with Sabella Goodwin, the first woman on the New York City police force. This allows Molly entry where she otherwise would be barred. And between the two of them, they solve the Eastside Ripper murders. After being so immersed in Molly's life for 5 volumes, I'm going to miss her and her friends while awaiting the next volume of Molly's escapades.
harstan More than 1 year ago
It is the beginning of the twentieth century and Irish immigrant Molly Murphy is one of the first female detectives working in New York City. It has not been easy for Molly to adjust to her new country especially since she discovers her beau NYPD Captain Daniel Sullivan was engaged to blueblood Arabelle Norton at the same time he was seeing her. Daniel is trying to get in touch with Molly by phone and visits to her abode, but she has successfully dodged his efforts. --- She is able to avoid him until a constable literally drags her to see Daniel, who is in the Tombs because he was arrested for accepting a bribe from a mobster in front of the police commissioner amongst others. The envelop he received was supposed to contain a list of underworld figures who want to sponsor an illegal activity, a prize fight, but instead held money. He needs Molly to prove he has been set up probably either to remove him from an investigation he was working on which includes doping a horse or that of the East Side Ripper serial killer. Molly knows the danger, but for personal reasons must help OH DANNY BOY. --- Rhys Bowen has created one of the most ferociously spunky heroines to grace the pages of a historical mystery series. Molly feels strongly that women can do anything men can do, sometimes better and demands equal rights and liberties at a time when females cannot vote. Although she is deeply hurt by Daniel¿s betrayal, she still cares for the ¿rat¿ and willingly risks her life in some dangerous neighborhoods to prove he is innocent. The clues to the police cases and Daniel¿s frame is laid out cleverly so that the audience can piece it together, but is not obvious and that makes for a pleasing puzzler inside a look back to a major immigration wave era. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At lug result seven!!:) hope to c u there!!:)