Karrin Murphy

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Karrin Murphy
The Dresden Files character
First appearance Restoration of Faith (chronological)
Storm Front (first novel)
Last appearance Skin Game
Created by Jim Butcher
Information
Nickname(s) Murph
Gender Female
Occupation Police (former)/civilian
Title Lieutenant, later demoted to Sergeant (former)
Religion Catholic
Nationality USA

Karrin Murphy is a major character in Jim Butcher's contemporary fantasy series, The Dresden Files. The character also appears as Connie Murphy in the television series based on the novels.

Background[edit]

Murphy is introduced as an officer who works within the Special Investigations (SI) division of the Chicago Police Department, which handles cases in which something unexplainable or supernatural is involved. Traditionally SI has been a dumping ground for officers who have made mistakes, and frequently SI officers leave the force. The commander, in particular, usually only lasts a few months. Karrin Murphy is introduced in the first Dresden novel as the Lieutenant of the Division, kicked there for asking too many questions, but too connected to be drummed out of the force.

Murphy commands SI for several years (through Proven Guilty), in part because she was not afraid to deal with the supernatural, going so far as to occasionally hire Harry Dresden as a consultant for various unusual cases. Although her demotion to Sergeant is unfair, she does undertake actions that would have her removed from the force altogether. She lies on her police reports routinely (saying that she feels that she writes fiction). Instead of simply omitting unprovable, supernatural events, she invents crimes that believably suit the evidence. Her favorite tactic is inventing terrorists and bombs that do not exist, since her higher-ups find such things desirable.

Murphy has an extremely difficult decision to make in regards to her duties as a policewoman. On the one hand, she is a duly appointed law enforcement officer, charged with the protection of the public from human crime, who takes withholding evidence and information extremely seriously when it is in pursuit of her job and duties. On the other hand, she has become one of the 'clued-in' as of Summer Knight, and realizes that the information that was concealed from her was for her own protection, and that of the public at large. Her choice is to do her job properly and truthfully, and ignore the supernatural community, or to involve in vigilante work against supernatural creatures she decides are acting against the public interest. Thus, to perform both her duties as a police officer, and her greater self-appointed duty to protect the public, she is often forced to engage in activities outside the scope of a law enforcement officer's proper purview. For instance, while she would no more brutalize a standard suspect in a questioning room then any other officer, she did so to Binder, a human with knowledge of summoning, knowing that a) he'd never speak with a lawyer, b) it was going to be impossible (and extremely dangerous to her fellow officers) to keep him incarcerated with his abilities, and c) it was a great distraction for what was really going on. Murphy has come to realize that standard human laws and protocols, and the bureaucracy that goes with them, are completely incapable of dealing with the true reality of things (a decision confirmed by the slaughter during the jailbreak of the loup-garou she incarcerated in Fool Moon), and in her self-appointed pursuit of protecting and 'policing' the supernatural community, she is willing to let slide violations of the law that she would not tolerate during mundane duties; as the creatures she is facing have no belief or respect for human law, she also disregards it. As a result, Murphy has taken upon herself the distasteful job of using highly questionable tactics against creatures nobody wants to believe exist, and taking actions outside the scope of law enforcement boundaries to protect the people of Chicago, without their knowledge.

Murphy's extra-legal actions make her the target of a blackmail plot in Dead Beat. Mavra, a powerful vampire within the Black Court, obtains photographs of her participation in a raid on the group's Chicago hideout. She threatens to use the pictures to destroy Murphy's career and/or have her sent to prison unless Harry fulfills her demands. He does so, and Murphy never learns about the plot, having been on vacation in Hawaii at the time.

In the fourth book we find that Murphy is divorced, and that her ex-husband Rich, also a policeman, left her because he felt like she was ignoring him for her job. He later marries her younger sister Lisa and becomes an FBI agent. Murphy's first marriage was short-lived and occurred before she had graduated from high school. Despite being divorced twice, she is a devout Catholic.

The events of Storm Front and Fool Moon cause Murphy to distrust Harry, and she reacts in a hostile and violent manner when she suspects he had a hand in the victims' deaths. She also takes action against Harry when she thinks he is keeping information from her because of his other commitments, such as to the White Council. In both books she physically assaults him and attempts to arrest him. However, the events of Grave Peril and Summer Knight lead her to put more trust in him, and she becomes one of his closest friends once he takes the plunge and 'clues her in' to the true reality and nature of things.

She admits to some romantic attraction to Harry as well, but is unwilling to act on it for several reasons. Firstly, she worries about complicating or ruining their friendship and working relationship. She also worries about their difference in lifespans: as a wizard, Harry will live for centuries, and she wants someone who can grow old with her and raise a family.

Karrin is the oldest child of Collin and Marion Murphy, and she is somewhere in her early thirties at the time of Storm Front. She has at least two brothers and at least one sister, who are seen in Blood Rites. In Blood Rites, Harry learns that before her father's suicide, when Karrin was 11, Collin Murphy was a senior detective in the Chicago PD and a "black cat" investigator, covering the same territory as the modern-day S.I. department.

After the events of Proven Guilty, Murphy is demoted to sergeant and replaced by co-worker Detective Sergeant John Stallings, Murphy's partner. This is a major blow to Murphy, but due to Stallings' respect for Dresden it does not significantly impact events in the series.

The first meeting between Harry and Murphy occurs in "A Restoration of Faith," a short story set before the events of Storm Front. Here, Murphy - still a uniformed officer at the time - helps Harry fight a troll lurking under a bridge.

During the events of Small Favor, Karrin briefly comes into possession of Fidelacchius, one of the swords wielded by the Knights of the Cross. She is able to make use of its power to defend Harry from a Denarian, in what Harry calls a "job offer." Karrin, however, declines to become the sword's new bearer because she has already sworn an oath to protect Chicago, and it remains in Harry's care. It appears the Dresdenverse God is quite in favor of how she approaches her job.

Over the course of Small Favor she confesses that her sexual friendship with Kincaid, the Hellhound, is being disrupted by her romantic feelings for him, and she attracts the interest of the holy knight Sanya who calls her "tiny, but fierce," though he could have simply been considering persuading her to become the third Knight of the Cross. She also confesses to some job frustration, knowing that her demotion will never be reversed and she won't be in a position to command again, due to her discredited standing in the force.

During the final battle in Changes she again comes into possession of Fidelacchius. After the events of Changes she expects to "retire" from the Chicago PD. Harry again asks her to become a Knight of the Cross, an offer she deferred judgment on saying she "had rebound boyfriends. Not interested in a rebound career".

In the novella "Aftermath" (told from Murphy's point of view) she returns to meet with Harry (approximately 45 minutes after "Changes") on the "Water Beetle" but only finds a blood spattered boat and Harry nowhere to be found. She finds herself fired from the police force and is approached by the Alpha werewolf Will Borden to help find his wife Georgia, who is 7 months pregnant. Georgia, along with many other "low-level talents", have been taken by the Fomor. Marcone's supernatural bodyguard Gard reveals that this is not only happening in Chicago, but all over the world. This is most likely occurring as a result of the extinction of the Red Court, as the Fomor (and other supernatural organizations) try to fill the power void. Murphy, Will and the returning Marci find themselves face to face with a number of Fomor in the rescue attempt of Georgia and the others. Before the fight she considers going back for "Fidelacchius", but reasons it's not the sword, but the person behind the sword that matters most.

In Ghost Story, Murphy has expanded the protective role she established in "Aftermath". Grudgingly accepting assistance from Gard and Marcone (mainly financial support from Marcone), she establishes a base of operations on the site of Dresden's former residence in a new castle-like structure built by Marcone and organizes several of Dresden's mortal resources to deal with the problems caused by the power vacuum left following the destruction of the Red Court. Harry's observations detail Murphy's attitude change since his "death." She has shaved her hair down to a low buzz cut and become increasingly withdrawn, confrontational, and hardened to the world around her. Butters surmises Harry's death affected Murphy more than she can admit even to herself. She trains with Monoc Securites warriors, Einherjar, men many times her size with centuries of fighting experience, in full contact sparring matches. Once news of Dresden's absence got out, supernatural beings began to prey on the mortal world, and in particular, Chicago. It is clear that she still detests Marcone and resists accepting his interference in day-to-day operations, but Murphy has become a harder character and learned to face threats that normally Harry would have dealt with using the resources she has available.

Murphy has organized a team consisting of Will, Georgia and the Alphas, Butters, the ParaNet, and Daniel and Molly Carpenter to hold off the forces that now feel free to invade what was once under Harry Dresden's protection. After being in denial of Harry's death, Murphy finally comes to accept it after Mortimer Lindquist, Harry's ectomancer friend and Mister confirms that it was in fact Harry's ghost, while acknowledging she didn't want to believe the worst which would mean that Harry is really gone.

In Cold Days, she accepts Harry's return but does not fully trust him due to his new role as Winter Knight. To that end, she has taken custody of the two Swords of the Cross that were left in Harry's care and will not tell him where they are. Nevertheless, she readily assists in his fight to defend Demonreach. She also forces him to accept the fact that they are more than friends, and that she will stand beside him and watch his back for as long as she can.

In Skin Game, Murphy has more or less gone back to how she was before Harry's death, growing back her hair and completely putting her trust in Harry, to the point that she unconditionally goes along with his plan, even if he kept large parts of it secret from her. It is revealed that she has hidden Amoracchius in the Carpenter house and Fidelacchius in her own, and during a fight with Nicodemus, she wields Fidelacchius again. It shatters into pieces, however, when Murphy tries to use it to kill Nicodemus while he is defenseless, and Nicodemus then severely injures Murphy in the fight. At the end of the novel, while she is recovering in the hospital, Harry tries to rekindle the romantic relationship that was abruptly cut off by his murder in Changes and Murphy reciprocates this time.

Abilities[edit]

Karrin Murphy is a gifted policewoman with street cop, detective, and command experience. She participates in competition shooting, for which she uses a specialized .22 caliber pistol and makes her own ammunition - including silver bullets formed by melting down her earrings in Fool Moon. In addition, she is fearless, inventive, adaptable, and fully capable of holding her own in violent combat. She owns a motorcycle and rides it frequently, and doubtless has been through combat driving schools.

Her most significant asset, however, has proven to be her extensive martial arts ability, as she has been practicing aikido since she was about four years old and has practiced martial arts in general every day since she was seventeen. While she does not consider herself a truly advanced student, she has studied Aikido, Wing Chun, Jujitsu, Kali, Savate, Krav Maga, Taekwondo, Judo, Boxing, and Shaolin Kung Fu. She can thrash all of the cops on the force, beat the snot out of Harry with little effort, and throw around people and beings much bigger and stronger than she is, in more than one case having brought Hendricks to his knees with simple wrist or finger locks. She is also Harry's instructor in staff combat. She keeps herself in excellent physical condition via running, working out and regular martial arts bouts. So far, the only people in the series who are more skilled infighters than Murphy are several hundred years older than she is: the Hellhound, Nicodemus Archleone, and the Einheriar working for Marcone.

Recent developments show her a capable swordswoman, wielding Fidelacchius in Changes during the final battle against the Red Court, and actually besting Nicodemus.

Television series[edit]

Debuting on January 21, 2007, the Sci Fi Channel TV adaptation co-starred Valerie Cruz as the Lt. Murphy. The character's name was changed to "Connie," short for Constanza (as remarked on by Harry in the episode "Rules of Engagement"), in order to avoid confusion with an actual officer in the Chicago Police Department named Karyn Murphy.

Although Murphy is described in the novels as being short-statured, blonde, and blue-eyed, the character as portrayed by Cruz is brunette and dark eyed in appearance. Cruz originally tried out for the part of Susan Rodriguez, but was cast as Murphy based on her ability to effectively portray the character's personality in spite of the difference in appearance. In the series, Murphy works with Detective Sid Kirmani, and appears to be a member of the Department's ordinary homicide unit, as Special Investigations is not mentioned. In "Birds of a Feather," she talks with Sheryl Sharp about her divorce, and indicates that she has a nine-year-old daughter named Anna who lives with her father, whereas in the novels she has no children from either of her marriages.

See also[edit]