Review: Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen

Pub Date: March 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Length: 272 pages
FTC: Review copy provided by Jane Rotrosen Agency

I have been in a history mood lately, so I dug out this copy of Bless the Bride . I had stalled on it a few months earlier, but sometimes finishing a book is more about mood and less about the book. I think this was one of those cases.

Set at the turn of the 20th century in New York City, Bless the Bride is the 10th installment in the continuing adventures of Molly Murphy, Irish immigrant and female amateur detective.

Overall, this felt like a novella and not a novel. At 272 pages, it is quite short. Which means that something had to give. And for me, that was the relationships. We get very little time between Daniel and Molly. In fact, we get far more time with Molly's neighbors than we do between the affianced pair.

But more than the length, the glaringly obvious history research annoyed me. I like that sort of information to be woven into the narrative, and here it seemed to be just stuck in there at random. I sincerely doubt whether a character would know the name of a Congressional Act well enough to trot it out during a casual conversation.

"Never become a citizen, even if you were born here?"
"That's right. Thanks to the Exclusion Act."

Awkward! It's mentioned again, later. Now, I can conceivably see Chinese-American or Chinese immigrants knowing the name of the law that codified discrimination against them, but it doesn't flow well. It would be far better to simply state "the law," then include the name of the law in an author's note at the end.

There are other examples, all relayed to Molly during conversation, that seemed just as stilted. Just as obvious of an info-dump. Maybe I'm too well-versed in 19th and early 20th American history, but it felt like a history lecture instead of a novel. As if Ms. Bowen didn't trust her readers to believe her research without pointing out specifics for verification.

Also, the mystery is entirely predictable. I missed some of the clues, but honestly, there were a few too many. I wasn't at all surprised, except for how slow Molly seemed to be about using her observations to help solve the crime.

Although I did enjoy the setting and characters, the lackluster mystery and unsubtle history lessons made this just an average read. I'm rounding up a little because despite the annoyances, I enjoyed the book while reading and am probably going to hunt up an earlier installment in the series to read.

My Grade: C+

The Blurb:
With Molly Murphy's wedding to Daniel Sullivan quickly approaching, she heads to the Westchester County countryside, where his mother can lend her a hand and advise her on a bride's proper place. And shockingly, Molly seems to be agreeing. She has already promised that she'll close up her PI business and settle down after marrying, but she isn't a married woman yet. So, when she gets word of a possible case, she sneaks back into the city to squeeze in a little more sleuthing before the wedding bells can ring. A wealthy Chinese immigrant wants her to find his missing bride, and Molly—sure she isn't getting the whole story—suspects that his bride ran off. But where could she go? The only Chinese women in early-twentieth-century New York are kept under lock and key, and Molly can't help but wonder if she's saving the woman from the streets or helping to lock her away for good.

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