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Detective Murdoch Books In Order

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Publication Order of Detective Murdoch Books

Except the Dying (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Under the Dragon's Tail (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Poor Tom is Cold (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Let Loose the Dogs (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Night's Child (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
Vices of My Blood (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Journeyman to Grief (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shipwreck (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Let Darkness Bury the Dead (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

The Detective Murdoch series is the creation of Canadian author, Maureen Jennings. The series constitutes seven books ranging from ‘Except the Dying’ to ‘A Journeyman to Grief’.

Maureen has often cited John Wilson Murray as the primary inspiration for her famous hero, the Detective having gained true prominence when he was appointed as Ontario’s first government detective during the Victorian Era.

From his pursuit of the murderer of a young pregnant servant girl to investigating the dark recesses of his own family, the series is often commended for its vivid characters and accurate but engaging historical settings, making The Detective Murdoch series a must read for any lovers of the mystery genres.

Murdoch’s own character makes for interesting reading, the detective hailing from a poor Roman Catholic family and his life having been defined by the death of his mother at the hands of his father, or so he presumed.

Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries is the live action Television adaptation of Maureen Jennings’ famous series; airing on CBC and City Television, in Canada the ongoing series has run for eight seasons so far and currently boasts 99 episodes.

The primary protagonist, William Murdoch, is brought to life by Yannick Bisson, a detective working in Ontario at the turn of the century. The crux of the series revolves around Detective Murdoch’s ability to solve cases using technologies that, at that time (1895-1901), were considered unusual, this including the so called finger marks (finger printing), trace evidence and blood testing.

The series will often allow its heroes to improvise with existing technologies to create crime solving devices whose functions would be recognizable today; this including what could amount to the invention of wire tapping and sonar.

By Murdoch’s side are companions: Doctor Julia Odgen, Constable George Crabtree and inspector Brackenridge. Just like the novels, the series strives to utilize real history within fictitious plots, this including making use of real people such as Oliver Mowat, Jack London, Buffalo Bill Cody, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison to mention but a few. The series also foreshadows a number of events and inventions of note that actually manifested in later decades and centuries such as the microwave.

The series makes effort to highlight the fact that William Murdoch is Roman Catholic, and the prejudices he then faces within a predominantly protestant city.

Beyond its Television treatment, the show has also produced several web series under the banner of Murdoch Mysteries. Storylines from the web series have been integrated into the Television series in some rare cases.

Three of Maureen Jennings’ Detective Murdoch novels have been adapted into television movies.

Maureen Jennings

Maureen Jennings is a Canadian Author; born in Birmingham on Eastfield Road, Jennings spent a considerable amount of her young life in England, but by 17 she had moved to Canada with her mother.

While primarily famous for the seven Detective Murdoch books in the series Maureen Jennings has also written two novels in The Christine Morris Series and another two books within The Inspector Tom Tyler Series. Jennings also produced the non-fiction book: The Map of Your Mind: Journey into Creative Expression.

+Except the Dying

A servant girl is found frozen and murdered on a deserted laneway. Detective William Murdoch, during a cold 1895 Toronto winter, learns that those closest to the deceased have secrets they wish to hide.

Maureen Jennings’ first Novel in The Detective Murdoch series was published in 1997 by McClelland and Stewart; ‘Except the Dying’ is a combination of historical and crime fiction and differs considerably from its television counterpart. Not only is Doctor Julia Odgen absent from the novel, but Inspector Brackenridge’s role is minor, at least in comparison to his importance in the TV series.

The book thrives on its mystery elements, proffering enough clues to its readers to make them think that they might have figured out the mystery before pulling the rug out from under them. The result is a finale that is quite unpredictable.

Detective Murdoch, the primary protagonist, is a vivid and well drawn character, alongside a cast that is equally fleshed out. It would be accurate to describe the novel simply as a well told detective story, avoiding common gimmicks and instead focusing upon availing a truly puzzling mystery.

Words such as page turner are often misused with regards to novels; not so with ‘Except Dying’ with Maureen Jennings keeping her readers firmly hooked to her book.

If there are any criticisms to aim towards the novel, it is the rather lackluster motive, which the story more or less lacked; while not quite an egregious failing, this lack of depth in explaining the psychological motivations of characters prevented this first Detective Murdoch outing from achieving its true heights.

+Under the Dragon’s Tail

Her discretion has made Dolly Merishaw an effective midwife and abortionist, playing host to women from all walks of life, united by their desperation and need. Dolly has also attracted a considerable amount of anger from the direly desperate women, mostly because of the contempt and greed she shows for them.

As such Detective William Murdoch is hardly surprised when Dolly is murdered. What proves shocking and changes the nature of Detective Murdoch’s case is the boy found dead in Dolly’s kitchen, portending the presence of more than one killer.

Published in 1998, the second book in The Detective Murdoch series continues to construct a distinct image of Toronto in the 1800s; the story continues to manifest at the rapid pace of the first book.

The plot is engaging and keeps readers guessing throughout the story’s run; as with any good mystery novel, the clues are present, providing hints regarding the true culprit of the crime.

However Jennings’ story telling prowess manages to maintain the mystery of the plot, with many a surprise always waiting around the corner. It is worth taking into account the fact that Doctor Julia Odgen finally makes her appearance in this book, though only playing a small role.

The few criticisms to manifest about this book have typically revolved around the relatively straight forward nature of the mystery and the fact that Jennings spends way too much time providing readers with the sorts of extraneous details about characters that have no notable relevance to the plot.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Detective Murdoch

One Response to “Detective Murdoch”

  1. Debra Wheeler: 2 years ago

    My husband and I took the season series out from our library. This series of Murdoch Mysteries is very good. I recommend everyone to watch this series if you like mysteries, and it is set in the 1800’s. Every year we look forward to watching the next season, when it comes out. They are on season 15 now. We even found season 1 to 10 to buy at a library sale. The characters in the show are comical sometimes. But an excellent series.


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