In the cold Toronto winter of 1895, the naked body of a servant girl is found frozen in a deserted laneway. The young victim was pregnant when she died. Detective William Murdoch soon discovers that many of those connected with the girl's life have secrets to hide. Was her death on attempt to cover up a scandal in one of the city's influential families?
©1997 Maureen Jennings (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"A finely flavored plot, credible characters, and detailed atmosphere make this a winner." (Library Journal)
"Turn-of-the-century Toronto makes an evocative setting for murder in Except the Dying, a skillful first novel that is interesting both for its historical accuracy and its fully realized characters." (Amazon.com review)
Narrative makes the world go round.
I am biased because I LOVED the Canadian setting -- but that could make this series of interest to other fans of the rapidly-multiplying Victorian-set mystery genre: the Toronto setting helps the listen keep some of the genre cliches at bay. The strength of the novel is its depiction of the daily grind of the poor - The author goes beyond trite description and into the chamber pots and privies. It's also the kind of police procedural that describes more scenes of tea drinking conversations than Hollywood-hopeful action.
Parts of the listen make it identifiably a first novel, but I really look forward to the rest of the series for summer listening. I am undecided about the narrator - it sounds like a site-read job, but he seems to handle some of the regional accents well and with imagination.
I listen to audiobooks in roughly 40 minute chunks during my work commute - much like many other people on this site, I suspect. Usually it's not a problem, but this book was occasionally difficult to follow. Jennings uses flashbacks and multiple points of view, which are probably crystal clear in print, but were sometimes confusing in audio. I liked the characters, especially poor Murdoch and the befuddlement of his personal life. It was a good read, a nice one, and down the line I'll pick up book 2 of the series.
David Marantz gives excellent narration! I loved the consistency of his choices - each character was uniquely voiced, with his or her own accent, which did more than just differentiate them from each other, but related to their history and who they were.
Slow moving and not a very interesting story for a murder mystery. Some characters had potential to be likable and interesting, but their development never really got going. The narration was odd--slow and meticulous--reminded me of someone reading a story on an educational children's show on PBS.
Detective William Murdoch is called to a deserted laneway late at night in 1895 Toronto, where the naked corpse of a servant girl was found. The autopsy showed that she was pregnant, and that she was given a shot of morphine. This led to her freezing to death after being hit on the head causing unconsciousness. The girl was soon identified by the family who hired her. She was a modest quiet girl and everyone was shocked that she was pregnant. Who was the father of her baby? Could it be the husband or the son of the household? Was she killed because she was pregnant? And where were her clothes? Then Detective Murdoch finds her clothes hidden in the latrine of the house closest to the site where she was found, and one of the two prostitutes who had stolen her clothing also witnessed a carriage picking her up. Then, that prostitute turns up dead. Detective Murdoch is convinced that the two crimes are connected andf sets out to find out what happened. A very good mystery. This is my first by Jennings but won’t be my last.
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