Murdoch Mysteries: Let Loose the Dogs, by Maureen Jennings
Maureen Jennings’ Murdoch is not the slick, stylized William of the TV series. Hers is a photo-realistic detective closer in style to a Marlowe than a Tintin. He eats the rather awful meals provided by his landlady Mrs Kitchen with forced enthusiasm, reads ‘Our Bodily Dwelling’ to try to understand more about certain elements of the human anatomy and how they function, sits and talks with the dying Arthur Kitchen in the evenings whilst he coughs his lungs up in the late stages of TB and has ‘connections’ with the ex-lodger Enid Jones.
The loosed dogs are killers, fighting in a competition reminiscent of a cock-fight to see which can kill the most rats in a strictly timed bout. Nasty stuff, with a lot of money riding on the outcome. Cheating is suspected and late on the opening night a murder is done.
William, on enforced leave of absence because of his sister’s recent demise, is informed that his despised father is in prison, convicted of the crime and due to hang within a few days. His father does not remember what happened or whether he’s guilty or not and asks William to investigate. Torn between wanting his father to hang and wanting to be certain of the truth he does, and delves unwillingly into more of the sordid underside of nineteenth century Toronto.
All the Murdochs have been good: this one beats them all.