I first came across Detective Murdoch when watching television while in Toronto. Recently the series has made its way onto American cable via the Ovation network and under the title The Artful Detective.
Murdoch is a Catholic in the Protestant city of Toronto, at the end of the 1800s. He is a thinking man, a more accessible version of Sherlock Holmes, who attracts the ladies even as he is getting over the death of his love. He is tasked with the job of discovering the murder of Dolly Shaw, a mid-wife and abortionist.
Is this the most perfect mystery? Well no, and it is a bit of morality story, though it should be noted not anti-abortion per se. I have to give Jennings credit for while her hero is male, the book is stocked full of well-developed women of strength – from Dr. Ogden, whose role in this book at least is smaller than on television, to the singer Annie, to Maud – the women find themselves constrained in choice. Murdoch is perhaps more opened minded and sympathy then what would normally be believed, but the writing is good and story diverting. Despite his straight lace appearance, Murdoch does have a bit of humor. He also is willing to improve himself and change his perceptions.
While Toronto doesn’t seem to be a character per se, historical details are well drawn.