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Under the Dragon's Tail: 10/10/17

Under the Dragon's Tail by Maureen Jennings

Under the Dragon's Tail by Maureen Jennings is the second of the Murdoch mystery books and the one that introduces Dr. Ogden. A woman who was once a midwife but has now fallen on hard times is found dead next to her fire place, presumably from hitting her head when she fell over drunk. The autopsy though reveals it was murder.

I really have mixed feelings about this series. On the one hand they inspired one of my current favorite mystery television series. And while the books do a better job at accurately portraying what police work and life in Toronto 1895 was like, they also seem to suck the very soul out of me.

The characters

  • Murdoch in the books is a sullen, loner bordering on being a misanthrope. The only two people he genuinely seems to like are Mr. and Mrs. Kitchen. If he could, he'd spend his whole life in his upstairs rooms at the boarding house, reading scientific, medical, and police procedural journals, coming down only for meals.
  • Crabtree is a giant of a man who Murdoch likes to work with because of his physical prowess. Crabtree is there to do the heavy lifting and not much more.
  • Brackenreid is a perpetually drunk, angry immigrant who doesn't want to be in Toronto. He hates his life and hates the city. He drinks, swears, and takes out his anger on the world on police house number four because he can.

The mystery itself is frankly very much like the first one. It sucks to be a lower class woman in late 18th century Toronto. Your whole life until you die is nothing but sex, violence, babies, alcohol, and self degradation. The person who committed the crime is invariably an upper crust man who due to Victorian sense of privilege and honor can't let his reputation be sullied, so killing a woman is preferable to running the risk of revealing his darker transgressions.

Three stars

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