Thursday, September 08, 2011

A pocketful of mumbles

I read the next two Molly Murphy books in lieu of packing for a trip to Southern California. (As a result, I forgot flip flops and a swimsuit, which are rather key for any stay in 90-degree weather.)

n Like Flynn takes our detective heroine to a countryside manor to investigate fraudulent spiritualists. (Doesn't there have to be a fake seance in every mystery series? Did Agatha Christie set that standard?) Naturally, there are a few murders that she has to solve along the way. A few of the plot twists seemed hastily thrown in and a bit improbable (like the sudden reappearance of the would-be rapist she thought she killed back in Ireland), but then others were definitely welcome (she and the police captain finally get it on, after three books of too-proper behavior).

In Oh Danny Boy, though, we are soberly reminded that those too-proper behaviors often prevented unwanted pregnancies in an era when women had extremely limited ways of supporting themselves or a child. The book focuses on an NYPD bribery scandal, and Molly attempts to prove the innocence of her somewhat selfish police captain and future baby daddy. In between bouts of morning sickness, she stumbles upon a missing heiress and a Jack the Ripper-esque string of killings; of course, the two cases end up being connected.
And because the Irish family she shares a home with is conveniently out in Connecticut recuperating from typhoid, Molly is alone to grapple with the drama and trauma of a potential abortion and miscarriage. One other very interesting introduction in this book is the (real-life) character of one of NYPD's first female officers. I love how, after a few books of Molly stumbling around to find her way as a female private investigator, Bowen has managed to find her a female mentor.

Perhaps it was appropriate, then, that I was pulled over for speeding on my way to Santa Barbara by a female California Highway Patrol officer. She kindly informed me how fast she believed I was going, as she wrote me my first-ever citation. (In fact, it was the first time I've ever been pulled over. Oh, firsts! I'm bizarrely relieved.) At any rate, Mi Cuñado's sister is a cop too; she loves her job but also has acknowledged the glass ceiling and social double standards.

Though a lot has been achieved in women's rights in the 109 years between Molly's time and mine, there's still a long way to go.

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