Murphy's Law

by Rhys Bowen

Saturday, July 6, 2002

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[these comments are out of context from a mailing list discussion and contain spoilers]

[on historical novels in general]

I’m not a big reader of historical novels full stop, whether mysteries or otherwise. This is odd because many of my favourite books as a child were historical now I come to think of it and also because when I do read something historical I generally enjoy the change.

My expectations for a historical mystery are that they will be fact laden, boring and tediously correct and my worries are that they will be anachronistic and miseducate me about the time period (and I know that’s not consistent with the first bit of the sentence). Even knowing that neither my expectations or my worries are usually borne out and I enjoy my occassional trips through time doesn’t really make me want to read much more historical stuff on a regular basis.

[on thehistorical setting]

I’m still in the middle of the book but everything seems pretty much chronistically feasible to me though I don’t really know very much about the time or the place to judge. I did notice several things that I remembered reading at the museum at Ellis Island and was torn between “ooh yes, I remember reading about that” and “can I have some titbits that don’t come straight out of the museum please”.

I thought that idea (Molly thinking about getting a flat with Michael Larkin) was quite reasonable actually. As I read it she wasn’t intending shacking up as a couple just sharing the rent in a place where extended families living together was the usual thing. Since she’s alone with no family network to fall back on she had the idea of making one up.

[on coincidences]

Molly just so happened to walk into a house where she was welcomed in Liverpool and then the occupants just so happened to have a reason and a ticket to take her to America; After that I kind of decided that I’d have to flow with the lucky breaks/coincidences if I was going to enjoy this book. I haven’t finished yet so I don’t know what coincidences are looming in the later chapters but I’m not going to be surprised by them now and I think the author’s set the rules up as “coincidences are allowed in this book” if that makes any sense.