Hush Now, Don't You Cry by Rhys Bowen is my first introduction to the Molly Murphy detective series, and from the outset I found the tale totally charming. Filling her novel with exquisite period detail and writing in a robust style that attempts to recreate certain elements of Du Maurier's classic
Rebecca, Bowen has Molly and her husband, New York City police detective Daniel Sullivan, unraveling a web of murder and intrigue on the grounds of the enormous, castle-like estate of Connemara in Newport, Rhode Island.
that their original honeymoon plans have fallen though and understanding that it is quite possibly “her lot” to be a policeman’s wife, Molly reluctantly travels with Daniel to stay at the seaside estate after Daniel takes up an offer from the owner, Alderman Brian Hannan. A man who is used to getting whatever he wants,
Hannan--together with his brother Joseph--owns a construction company and is currently building the subway under the streets of New York City.
Quite simply, Hannan’s estate at Connemara has Gothic overtones with its dangerous cliff paths and ornate gilded gate, along with a tennis court, croquet lawn, picaresque fountain, and a pretty little gazebo
lying hidden among the trees. A perfectionist at heart, Hannan is used to being surrounded by beauty. Yet from the outset, there’s also some force and a sort of malevolent spirit in the house which Molly is convinced doesn’t want her there.
A variety of metaphorical ghosts haunt this novel. But there are also ghosts hovering behind Molly in inspirational shades that steer her and Daniel in the direction of an adorable little four-year-old dead girl. Just as Molly and Daniel are placed into the guest cottage by the gossipy housekeeper Mrs. McCreedy, Molly spies a face at the window in the turret of the main house which looks remarkably like Brian Hannan’s granddaughter who died eight years ago. Ever since the girl’s untimely death, the family has been shrouded in grief.
With Daniel suddenly bedridden by a nasty grippe, Molly must pull herself together and be the rock on which Daniel
must depend. From whispered conversations in the cottage, to feminine giggles, to a shadowy figure on the stairs, Molly--against Daniel’s better judgment--plunges herself, nose to the grindstone, into an ever-deepening mystery when one of the Hannans is murdered, his body found beaten, bedraggled, and left for dead beneath the isolated cliff path.
The resulting accusations from Mrs. McCreedy that Molly is acting peculiar and snooping around conjures up an animosity that acts as a hysterical catalyst within the Hannan family. Joseph Hannan’s reproach that his brother is a damned dictator, “summoning us all here, as if we were his lackeys,” only reinforces Molly’s struggle to solve the mystery of an enigmatic white lady who wonders across the lawn only to vanish,
and what really happened in this place that this family seem so intent to keep from the world.
As Molly fights to keep Daniel’s health from unraveling, she must piece together the negative currents that emanate from Connemara, this place of great hostility and many secrets.
Your characteristic light mystery, Hush Now, Don't You Cry assumes typical twists, turns, and red herrings, while Molly’s no-nonsense
style gives the story its charm, from her intrepid love of Daniel to her probing of a house clouded with spoiled, conceited oddballs. Although not the greatest of literature, Bowen's passion for her heroine is obvious as she offers up a compelling portrait of gentle-hearted Molly who in the face of adversity entrances with her kindly ways and her defiant sense of loyalty.