Murphy was born and brought up in Liverpool where she gained a degree in Environmental Biology at the University of Liverpool and later an MA with Distinction in Writing at Liverpool JMU, a course on which she now lectures. She has been a countryside ranger, science teacher, dyslexia specialist and psychology student.
After a string of successful stand-alone novels, Murphy began her first series with The Dispossessed which was followed by Now You See Me, featuring fictional Merseyside detectives Jeff Rickman, Lee Foster and Naomi Hart.
Her novels have garnered critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic with The New York Times describing her prose as "skin-chilling". Short-listed for the First Blood Award and the Crime Writers' Association's "Dagger in the Library", Murphy is the founder of "Murder Squad" — a touring group of crime writers — and a committee member of the Crime Writers' Association. She is also 2006/7 Chair of the CWA Debut Dagger.
Murphy is a contributor to both BBC Radio Merseyside's Drive Time and Radio 4's The Message.