For years, I have watched the Murdoch Mysteries on Monday nights on Canadian TV. I have always noted that the shows were based on books written by MAUREEN JENNINGS. I finally got off my couch and got book one in the series entitled EXCEPT THE DYING. I am very happy that I did.

The setting is 1895 Toronto Canada. The main “good guys” are Acting Detective William Murdoch, Constable Crabtree and Inspector Brackenreid of Station 4 of the Toronto Police. There are numerous “bad guys” including “Sailor Jack”; Dr. Cyril Rhodes; Owen Rhodes his son; Foy, the Rhodes’ butler and City Councilmember Shepcote.

Therese Laporte and Alice Black are the murder victims. The former was a house cleaner in the Rhodes’ household. The latter was a prostitute. Both are found outside in frigid weather and had lethal doses of drugs in their systems. Murdoch and his team follow leads and discard red herrings to eventually bring the murderers to justice.

This was a time when forensic science was extremely limited. Transportation and communication lacked the modern conveniences we all take for granted today – telephones, computers, motorized vehicles, etc.. There are no car chases but there are horse-drawn carriage rides.

The characters of Murdoch, Crabtree and Brackenreid are slightly altered from the way they are portrayed in the TV series. If you have not seen the TV series, you will not notice the difference. The author does an extremely good job of writing in the vernacular of the late 19th century so it feels like you are there.

Highly recommended for fans of period mysteries and different settings. There are more than six books in the series.


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