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The compelling new novel by Canada's answer to Anne Perry. In his forties, the Reverend Charles Howard still cut an impressive figure. A married Presbyterian minister in Toronto's east end, 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? Murdoch's investigation takes him into the arcane Victorian world of queer plungers men who fake injury all the better to beg and the destitute who had nowhere left to turn when they knocked on the Reverend Howard's door.
Maureen Jennings’s Detective Murdoch series has been a hit from the start. Published to rave reviews, the first novel, Except the Dying, was shortlisted for both the Arthur Ellis and the Anthony first novel awards. The influential Drood Review picked Poor Tom Is Cold as one of its favourite mysteries of 2001. And Let Loose the Dogs was shortlisted for the 2004 Anthony Award for best historical mystery. Three novels have been adapted for television with two more in development.
Born in the U.K., Jennings immigrated to Canada at age seventeen. She now lives in Toronto.
CHAPTER ONE William Murdoch had recently been promoted from acting to full detective and given a raise in wages of three dollars a month. But his new status was not reflected by a better office, and from his desk he was contemplating the same old furnishings of a battered metal filing cabinet and a visitor’s chair that the rag-and-bones man would have rejected. The walls, he noticed, would benefit greatly from a fresh coat of paint, as he was wont to use the one wall as a blackboard and the chalk marks never quite rubbed off. He needed a new lamp, or at least some better oil, as the one on his desk was smoking badly.
Having made this gloomy assessment, he took a gulp of the hot strong tea that he’d brought in from the duty room and got back to his task. He dipped his pen into the inkwell. He had a fine working fountain pen in his pocket, but he couldn’t bring himself to write a letter to his absent mistress with a pen his beloved deceased fiancée had given him. Dear Enid. I haven’t yet received a letter from you, but I hope that is only because of the bad weather and not because you don’t want to write to me. How is your father faring?
He paused. That last line seemed ridiculously stiff. But he’d have to leave it. This was the third draft he’d started. Oh just cross outfaring, for Christ’s sake. How is your father? I do hope his health is improving.
Of course, the reason she had not written could be because her father had died. If that was the case he wondered if she would return to Canada. And then he wondered how he would feel about that if she did. It had been almost two months since she had been summoned back to Wales to take care of her ailing parent. This had been the primary and acknowledged reason for her departure, but they both knew that sitting just behind it was Murdoch’s inability to make up his mind to marry her.
Another dip in the ink and he made a large blot on the page.Damn.These pens were police issue and leaked badly. His fingers were stained already. Tell Alwyn I am thinking of him. I have still got his sled and . . .
He’d been going to writeand I look forward to the time when he returns, but that was implying a promise he didn’t know if he could keep.
He looked at the letter. It was a mess with two crossing-outs and three blots. He crumpled it up and threw it into the basket with the others. He’d write later at home, not here at the police station where there were distractions. He’d heard the clack of the telegram machine in the front hall and decided to get up and see if anything interesting had come over the wire. It had been a quiet day so far.
He swallowed the rest of his tea and went out into the main hall.
There were no miscreants or supplicants gracing the wooden bench that ran around the room and it wasn’t time for the shifts to change so the only two officers present were the stenographer, Callahan, and the duty sergeant, Gardiner, who was sitting at his high stool behind the desk. He grinned when he saw Murdoch and waved a piece of paper.
“We’ve got a telegram from Hamilton. Callahan just typed it up. You might want to have a look at it.” He handed Murdoch the wire.
be advised stop watch for queer plungers stop we suspect a supposed family of three stop woman mid age stop younger man stop one boy about eight to ten years old stop could be related to either stop probably in toronto and working the king street area stop aliases given as mrs wright and son bobbie stop no name for man stop very convincing stop
Murdoch saw that Callahan was watching him curiously, but he averted his eyes immediately when Murdoch glanced his way. The constable was almost obsequious in his dealings with the de
Excerpted from Vices of My Blood by Maureen Jennings All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.