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The true story of a widow and a hijacker
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Life Detonated is a story for anyone who has lost a loved one; for anyone who has struggled to forgive; for anyone who yearns to learn deep lessons that will resonate, for anyone worried about what will happen in time of crisis; for anyone who knows fear and recognizes that it is what we do for others that makes us fearless.

The book is about what happened when my husband, a New York City bomb squad officer is blown up by a terrorist bomb left in Grand Central Station, and how the seductive letters from that terrorist helped me unravel the complexities of my life. 

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Life Detonated is the inspirational story of triumph about a young woman raised on the mean streets of the Bronx who was saved by the love of a heroic NYPD bomb-squad police officer whose line of duty death causes her life to implode. It is a true story that reads like the very best fiction.

Patrick J. Lynch

President, Patrolman's Benevolent Association of the City of New York

My Story

As America sat immobilized while planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, my own September 11th, twenty-five years earlier, came flooding back. Watching the towers crumble brought me back to September 11, 1976, when my husband Brian Murray, a member of the New York City Police Department Bomb Squad, was killed by a bomb Croatian freedom-fighters placed in a Grand Central Station locker before hijacking TWA Flight 355 from LaGuardia airport. 


As I waited for my husband to return home that evening, the hijacked flight landed in Paris. As I kissed my little boys good night, Brian moved the device from Grand Central Station to a disposal site. As I slept, the bomb exploded. 


This is the story of seduction by one of the hijackers, whose persuasive letters offered a link back to my husband. Our correspondence unraveled the complexities of our lives and allowed me to grow from a child expected to quit school at sixteen, to a woman who took on the NYPD and the City of New York, graduated magna cum laude to become a professor of English, and finally, to stand up to the woman responsible for my husband’s death.


Ultimately, this is a survivor’s story, as I moved from being the unintended target of a political battle waged by people from a war-torn country, to become co-founder of Survivors of the Shield, a group that advocates for and provides support and assistance to the spouses and children of New York City police officers killed in the line of duty.


It is the story of resilience in the face of senseless tragedy and of evil villains and surprising superheroes. The subplots include my second husband who coaxed me back to love, Gracie, my heroin-addicted sister who gave me hope, and the ways in which the death of my husband brought back an estranged mother, as beguiling in her complexity as one of the hijackers who befriended me. 

My Books



Life Detonated is a real NY love story about a NYPD hero from Brooklyn who meets a girl from the Bronx,  sweeps her off her feet, and starts a family. Tragically he is killed in the line of duty by a terrorist bombing. But, instead of ending there we see his widow courageously become the ultimate survivor and learn how to take care of herself, her family, and other widows.

Kirkus Review

The author delicately yet unreservedly explores a widow's experience: the necessary yet nearly impossible task of reconciling a senseless death to a terrorist organization, the unanswered questions and insecurity, and the crushing reality of suddenly becoming a single parent to small children. A raw, somber emotional journey that concludes with hope and a measure of forgiveness.

Midwest Book Review

An impressively candid, extraordinarily detailed, ultimately inspiring read from cover to cover, "Life Detonated" is a consistently compelling and exceptionally personal story that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections.


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