Wednesday, January 31, 2018

An Old New Author As It Were

Maybe you've seen the Murdoch Mysteries? The tv series is inspired by the Detective Murdoch mystery novels by Maureen Jennings. Currently playing on, they are set in Toronto around the turn of the last century and make for a very interesting Canadian tv series.

I first read some of Murdoch series quite awhile ago. well before before I became acquainted with the tv series. I couldn't begin to guess how many of the 8 Murdochs that I have read, but I can say that I have certainly not read the latest volume, Let Darkness Bury the Dead, published just last year (2017). Her previous Murdoch novel to that, A Journeyman to Grief  was published in 2007, and I possibly had lost track of the series before then and not read that one either.

All of that background probably isn't necessary, but it might be helpful and is a way of saying that I was at least familiar with the author, Jennings, even if we hadn't dated each other (so to speak) for quite a long time.

Somehow or other, and don't ask me how I learned that she had another series on the go: Tom Tyler. This one was set in wartime England — the second WW. Having just discarded a book which didn't meet my lofty standards, I found myself bereft or reading material, so I logged into our little library. Lo and behold, they had the first Tyler novel,  Season of Darkness, in their collection. Not only that but it was available. I put a Hold on it, and was soon informed that it was ready for pickup.

The first novel was good enough for me to search out the second, which became instantly available to me via download. So of course I did, and I think I liked Beware This Boy even more than Season of Darkness.

Season was set in a country town with a nearby concentration camp which became a big part of the story. This was not an enemy soldier camp but was composed of immigrants, mainly Jews but others too, who didn't have sufficient or verifiable documentation when the war broke out. Of course, Tom had family problems plus marital problems and a girlfriend on the side. That may sound sordid, but it was a childhood first love who had just come back into his life.

In the second of the series, Beware This Boy, he is seconded to Birmingham to investigate a factory explosion, and he eventually tracks down the perpetrators. I liked the second of the series even more than the first, which is often unusual, and so I have ordered the third book, No Known Grave, and have just been informed that it is ready for pickup.

Sometimes, this internet thing works out well.

But I'm not finished.

While I was waiting for No Known Grave to become available, I discovered that there was a third series, which was actually her second series as it come before the Tom Tyler novels. It's the Christine Morris series of only two books, written in 2006 and 2008. Unlike the other series, these are contemporary, the protagonist being a Canadian detective who ends up solving a mystery involving her mother in the Hebrides. 

Does Your Mother Know? is somewhat unusual being written in the first person. I wasn't sure about writing from this voice at first, but Jennings pulled it off in my opinion. I will be interested to read her other Morris novel to see if it is also set in Scotland or whether the protagonist returns to Canada. 

By the way, this was also instantly downloaded via the library's website, so that made it 3 books with me only having to leave the house once although I will have to make a trip to the library tomorrow to pick up the hard copy of No Known Grave mentioned above. Such a hardship.

Forgive me for getting in my pedantic mode, it being difficult to give enough background without going overboard. The point it that I think that they are all decent mysteries, which you might not have come across even if you read that genre. So I pass it along for what it's worth.


Marie Smith said...

Love Maureen Jennings. Must check put the Tyler series. Maureen visited libraries in PEI a few years ago. It was great to see and hear her speak of her writing and work as consultant on the Murdock series.

Joanne Noragon said...

"seconded to Birmingham"--what does that mean?

troutbirder said...

Ah nothing like a good murder solved in a familiar locale!..:)

Mara said...

I did watch some episodes of the Murdoch Mysteries. I don't know whether I saw the first one in Canada or Europe, but I thought it was quite a nice series. But through time, the series got lost and since I couldn't recall who aired it and I moved to another country...

Jenn Jilks said...

We've quite enjoyed Murdoch, on TV. Lately, I think it's getting too cutsie, jumping the shark, perhaps.
I like her research and writing, however. She culls interesting pieces of history.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

We are faithful watchers of the Murdoch Mysteries which we can see here on Acorn TV streaming although we have to wait a week for the latest episode to have aired. I had put a couple of Jennings books on my library reading wish list last year, but then never downloaded the books. After reading this post I may go back and see if any are available. Right now I am reading a set of mystery short stories by P.D. James