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Except the Dying By Maureen Jennings

except-the-dying-by-maureen-jenningsWritten in 1997, this is the first in the increasingly popular Detective Murdoch Mystery series. The time is 1895, and the city is Toronto. A Toronto so different, and yet so much the same as we know it today. There is poverty and there is wealth–there are homeless people living in shacks on the lakeshore–and city council is prohibiting begging on the streets.

Working poor

There is also skating on the Don River and gas lights along Queen Street. Detective Murdoch’s beat is Queen to Gerrard Sts., east from Yonge Street.

There are a few pockets of wealth, but it is mostly a city of the working poor, prostitutes, newsboys and shop girls.

When the naked body of a young, female servant is found on the frozen street, Murdoch finds himself investigating both the wealthy and the poor–and they all have secrets to hide.

Maureen Jennings conducts historic walking tours of this area and she knows her city well. The first three novels in the series have been made into TV movies, but these books are already as alive as film for the reader.

Maureen Jennings brings the city of the time to life–the filth and the poverty, the horse-drawn vehicles, all of the smells and the sounds of the city–and the warmth and comfort of the grand homes of the gentry.

Murdoch himself is a character we grow fond of as he examines his own reaction to the crime and the people who may be involved.

If you read the first in the series, I am sure it will not be the last.

You will have several more to look forward to, and then you’ll be off to explore Victorian Toronto!

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