Friday, January 9, 2015
'Except the Dying' by Maureen Jennings
"In the middle of the bitterly cold winter of 1895 in Toronto, the naked body of a young servant girl has recently been discovered in a deserted laneway. Detective William Murdoch must determine the reason why she died under such miserable circumstances. To catch his criminal, Murdoch crosses the class lines of a society that still clings to a British hierarchical system, and behind the chenille curtains of the wealthy, he uncovers personalities capable of committing ugly crimes."
I fell in love with the Murdoch Mysteries TV show and saw it was based on novels. So I decided to read the first novel and checked out reviews on Goodreads to see how the books were. The show is a bit graphic in the autopsy room and I wondered if the books were gory. What people said was, 'if you like the TV show, you'll love the books'.
Those people could not be more wrong.
I don't get it. The show has a fine sense of humor. Murdoch is known for trying out cutting edge techniques in law enforcement. Constable George Crabtree is a young man, fresh-faced, unmarried, always coming up with crazy theories and loyal almost to a fault. (I crave 'George-theories'! Like when a body was discovered in a tree with no footprints anywhere. No one can figure it out. Murdoch and George talk about it and George says, "Most of my conclusions I've had to rule out due to sheer impossibility but the most feasible solution I've come to is that he was shot out of a canon." I fell in love with him just a little bit more when he said that.)
In the books, Murdoch just goes around town asking people about their whereabouts. He uses almost no other technique to find the murderer. He doesn't like anybody he works with, except Crabtree, who gets maybe five minutes in the book. Crabtree is a massive fellow with about six kids. There is no humor that I could discern.
The book was very well written, I just didn't like it. Not only was I expecting a similar experience to the show (since the show is based on the books and since reviews indicated they were alike) and quite disappointed that didn't pan out.
The book was harsh and I'm not talking about the weather. (A girl is found dead in the snow during a bitter winter in Toronto. I read it while we, here in Chicago, were having another day of 30 below zero, wind chill.) The attitude toward women is deplorable. The language used throughout the book is callous. I'm not easily offended but 255 pages of reading about how woman are barely good for one thing left a nasty taste in my mouth.
All the characters smelled, almost all of them were dirty, living in awful conditions and the overall feel of the book was depressing and morose. Furthermore, every single person in the book is sick, either physically or mentally, except for one man introduced toward the end. This is not a cheerful book. I'm not saying it should be, I just don't understand how the show came from it and why other people stated I'd like it.
Try for yourself if you like, my only problems are personal preference so go for it. Make up your own mind.