12 September 2011


I ventured back to the Northfield library, "to read" list in hand. Well, actually, it was in my pocket.

I began near the top of the list. The name Rhys Bowen was near the top and incredibly handy on the library shelf. There were a number of books there by Bowen, and I pulled the first Molly Murphy mystery, Murphy's Law, off the shelf.

It's a lightweight. There are just barely over 200 pages, it's not much more than a paperback in size and weight. Unfortunately, it's a literary lightweight too.

It's set in turn of the 20th century New York, and the book jacket advertises Molly Murphy as a female detective. I was hoping for something akin to the better Maisie Dobbs stories. The story is akin to a comic book plot -- not even a graphic novel. It gets a whole slew of Heart of Gold improbability "awards." I couldn't begin to describe the improbabilities here.

I get impatient with Margaret Coel for writing so much romance novel into her mysteries. Murphy's Law seems to include a minor mystery as a framework for a THE BIG KISS scene. Not a sex scene, a kiss scene!

Give me a break!

On reading the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Sunday, I learned what I'd found in Bowen's book: a "cozy." Mary Ann Grossmann was writing about a self-published book she thought was wonderful and hoped it would help the author find a publisher. The author didn't know it, but with Grossmann's help learned he'd written a cozy. I didn't know what a cozy was, but I read one.

Too late, I read the back cover. The selected press blurbs (carefully chosen and edited, as we know, to present the book and the author in some desired light) would have warned me if I'd read them while standing in the library. Kirkus Reviews compares Rhys Bowen to M. C. Beaton. A Denver Post reviewer compares her to Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. Beaton, Christie, and Marsh are all on my "don't read anymore" list. To top it off, someone at Publisher's Weekly says, "This mystery is sure to appeal to those who prefer old-fashioned , heartwarming stories to tawdry tales full of graphic sex and violence." That was written about a book published in 2001. Hey, I like my tawdry tales (to a degree).

So Bowen goes from my "to read" list to my "don't read anymore" list. Have you read any of Rhys Bowen's "mysteries?" How did you react to them? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you think.

1 comment:

Ken Wedding said...

Gary Sankary wrote that his wife has read some of Bowen's books and liked the historical settings.

I'll agree that there are some good historical bits there.