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The books behind the Canadian TV show.
What are The Murdoch Mysteries about?
Coming from British Canadian writer Maureen Jennings, The Murdoch Mysteries is a historical crime series inspired by John Wilson Murray—who was appointed as Ontario’s first government detective in 1875.
The series focuses on Detective William Murdoch, a man of strong principles, who uses his unique abilities to solve crimes, sometimes using advanced science for his time. With the help of Constable George Crabtree, Murdoch investigates murder mysteries at the end of the 1890s.
How to read the Murdoch Mysteries Books In Order?
Every book in the Murdoch Mystery series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Shipwreck (short story) – On a cold winter morning in 1873, a crowd gathers on the shore of a Nova Scotia fishing village. A stormy sea has thrown a ship onto the rocks. The villagers work bravely to save the ship’s crew. But many die. When young Will Murdoch and the local priest examine the bodies, they discover gold and diamonds. They suspect that the shipwreck was not responsible for all of the deaths. With the priest’s help, Will- who grows up to be a famous detective- solves his first mystery.
- Except the Dying – In the cold Toronto winter of 1895, the unclad body of a servant girl is found frozen in a deserted laneway. The young victim was pregnant when she died. Was her death an attempt to cover up a scandal in one of the city’s influential families? Detective William Murdoch quickly finds out that more than one person connected with the girl’s simple life has something to hide.
- Under the Dragon’s Tail – Desperate women, rich and poor, come to her in need of help – and discretion. Dolly Merishaw is a midwife and an abortionist in Victorian Toronto, but although she keeps quiet about her clients’ condition, her contempt and greed leaves them resentful and angry. So it comes as no surprise when this malicious woman is murdered. What is a shock, though, is that a week later a young boy is found dead in Dolly’s squalid kitchen. Now, Detective Murdoch isn’t sure if he’s hunting one murderer – or two.
- Poor Tom Is Cold – A police constable named Oliver Wicken has apparently committed suicide, leaving his mother and his invalid sister to fend for themselves. The evidence, according to the coroner, is irrefutable. Wicken was shot in the temple with his own revolver and a farewell note has been found beside his body. But new and disturbing evidence is brought to light that leads Detective Murdoch to suspect that the suicide was not what it seemed.
- Let Loose the Dogs – Murdoch’s life and work overlap tragically. His sister, who long ago fled to a convent to escape their abusive father, is on her deathbed. Meanwhile, Harry Murdoch, the father whom Murdoch long ago shut out of his life, has been charged with murder and calls on his estranged son to prove his innocence. But, knowing his father, what is Murdoch to believe?
- Night’s Child – After thirteen-year-old Agnes Fisher faints at school, her teacher, the young and still idealistic Amy Slade, is shocked to discover in the girl’s desk two stereoscopic photographs. One is of a dead baby in its cradle, and on the back Agnes has scrawled a terrible message. Worse, the other photograph is of Agnes in a pose captioned “What Mr. Newly Wed Really Wants.” When Agnes doesn’t show up at school the next day, her teacher takes the two photographs to the police. Murdoch, furious at the sexual exploitation of such a young girl, resolves to find the photographer – and to put him behind bars.
- Vices of My Blood – A married Presbyterian minister in Toronto’s east end, Reverend Charles Howard was popular with the congregation that elected him, especially with the ladies, and most particularly with Miss Sarah Dignam. Respected in the community, Howard, as Visitor for the House of Industry, sat in judgment on the poor, assessing their applications for the workhouse. But now Howard is dead, stabbed and brutally beaten by someone he invited into his office. His watch and boots are missing. Has some poor beggar he turned down taken his vengeance?
- A Journeyman to Grief – In 1858, a young woman on her honeymoon is forcibly abducted and taken across the border from Canada and sold into slavery. Thirty-eight years later, Detective Murdoch is working on a murder case that will take all of his resourcefulness to solve. The owner of one of Toronto’s livery stables has been found dead. He has been horsewhipped and left hanging from his wrists in his tack room, and his wife claims that a considerable sum of money has been stolen. Then a second man is also murdered, his body strangely tied as if he were a rebellious slave. Murdoch has to find out whether Toronto’s small “coloured” community has a vicious murderer in its midst — an investigation that puts his own life in danger.
- Let Darkness Bury the Dead – Toronto, November 1917. The Great War is grinding on, chewing up young men by the thousands. With enforced conscription and horrendous carnage, the enthusiasm for war is dimming in the loyal Dominion of Canada. William Murdoch, now a widower, spends his time tracking down bootleggers and trying to repair his relationship with his only son, Jack. Recently returned from France after being gassed and wounded at Passchendaele, Jack is deeply troubled, and seems to be bound to another former soldier, Percy McKinnon, by a mysterious secret.
This article was last updated on May 28, 2023.