Maureen Jennings's Detective Murdoch series has been a hit from the
start. Published to rave reviews, the first novel, "Except the
Dying" was shortlisted for both the Arthur Ellis and the Anthony
first novel awards. The influential Drood Review picked "Poor Tom
Is Cold" as one of its favourite mysteries of 2001. And "Let Loose
the Dogs" was shortlisted for the 2004 Anthony Award for best
Three of the novels have been adapted for television, and four seasons of a television series, "The Murdoch Mysteries," based on the characters from the novels, have been produced by Shaftesbury Films for CITY TV/Rogers, UKTV in Britain and distributed internationally by ITV/Granada international.
Born in the U.K., Jennings now lives in Toronto.
The plethora of historical mysteries makes it difficult for a writer to carve out a time and place uniquely her own. However, Jennings has laid strong claim to the Toronto of the late 19th-century with the Anthony award-winning Except the Dying and Under the Dragon's Tail, and she cements her hold with this deft combination of mystery and social issues. Now an acting detective, William Murdoch faces heartache and toothache as well as the troublesome (apparent) suicide of a young constable, Oliver Wicken. The constable's body is found in an abandoned house on his patrol route when his supervisor reports his absence. A note by the body suggests Wicken killed himself over a lover's rejection. A witness even comes forward to claim she was the woman involved. Murdoch's investigation is driven as much by the desire of the police to avoid the stigma of a suicide in its ranks as it is by a desire to expose a crime. Jennings exposes the era's "political correctness" without ever mounting a soapbox or becoming strident. So many incidentals of her book fascinate, horrify or inform: the treatment of those consigned to the "insane asylum"; the prevailing prejudice against Chinese and Catholics; the new, "painless" dentistry then available. The result is a satisfying mystery perfectly wedded to its evocative setting. Jennings's sales and reputation should continue to grow with this third strong effort. Agent, Teresa Chris. (Feb. 6) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Adult/High School-On a dreary, dull mid-November day in 1895 in Toronto, Acting Detective William Murdock begins searching for Oliver Wicken, who hasn't reported in during the last hours of his beat. Murdock finds the constable dead from a shot to the temple and his body poised in a suicide position. The detective painstakingly gathers information until he finally fits the pieces of the mystery together. The solution involves greedy relatives intent on inheriting an old man's money in spite of his young wife. A tensely played last-minute attempt of the wife to save her own life results in a suspenseful ending. Jennings brings the late-19th-century Canadian town into clear view, complete with food, myriad cultural perspectives, daily routines, and varied religions. Murdock carries out most of the transfer of information while secondary characters are a balance to his sometimes dreary way of thinking. The young woman's family shows a real sense of the evil workings of mankind as they try and try again to murder her. Her male relatives are so vulgar and crude that they intensify the sense of evil and stand in direct contrast to the inherent goodness of the protagonist. Jennings weaves an intriguing plot through all types of obstacles, and concludes with a great burst of action.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Turn-of-the-19th-century Toronto springs to life in this affecting series (Under the Dragon's Tail) from Jennings. Acting detective William Murdoch refuses to believe the findings of a coroner's jury that the violent death of a young, sensible constable was suicide. Oddly enough, at least one jury member has a dirty secret: he and his siblings will do anything to prevent their aging father's current young wife from inheriting his money. Contemporary social, religious, and sexual mores frame a strong plot line and delineate a resourceful "hero." Highly recommended. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Jennings has a wonderful feel for the places and tasks that give
life and context to a character."
-"New York Times Book Review"
"Readers are given a vivid, heart-wrenching picture of the poverty of many in Victorian Toronto."