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After thirteen-year-old Agnes Fisher faints at school, her teacher, the young and still idealistic Amy Slade, is shocked to discover in the girl’s desk two stereoscopic photographs. One is of a dead baby in its cradle, and on the back Agnes has scrawled a terrible message. Worse, the other photograph is of Agnes in a pose captioned “What Mr. Newly Wed Really Wants.” When Agnes doesn’t show up at school the next day, her teacher takes the two photographs to the police. Murdoch, furious at the sexual exploitation of such a young girl, resolves to find the photographer – and to put him behind bars.
Night’s Child is the fifth novel in Maureen Jennings’s highly praised historical mystery series. Two of the stories have already been adapted for the small screen, in acclaimed movies aired by the Bravo network. Another four movies are in development – good news for Jennings’s fast-growing number of avid fans.
In each succeeding historical mystery set in late 19th century Toronto, Jennings has not only placed her readers vividly in the period and the place, but has also given them an involving story. Her books have the added spice of a blend of conventionally defined crime and the often more egregious failures of the period’s social system. Finally, she has steadily fashioned and filled out the character of her protagonist, Acting Detective William Murdoch, until he joins the select group of fictional beings who become more real to the reader than most flesh and blood acquaintances. We have met a human being.
In Let Loose the Dogs Murdoch’s job and his life combine tragically. He learns that his beloved sister, who long ago fled to a cloistered convent to evade their drunken and abusive father, is on her deathbed. Meanwhile, Harry Murdoch, the father whom Murdoch had long ago wiped out of his life, and who may have caused his mother’s death, has been convicted of murder. Harry calls on his estranged son to prove his innocence and to save his life.
In the midst of these family crises, Murdoch can at least rejoice that his struggling romance seems to have some promise.
As the unforgiving cold swirled around the girl’s unclad body, the bleakness of malice reflected in her lifeless eyes.
There was something more sinister than the frigid Canadian weather responsible for Theresa Laporte’s death, and Detective William Murdoch was going to uncover it all. The girl had opium in her system and an unborn child in her belly—with evidence suggesting both may have been forced upon her unwillingly.
Retracing the frightened girl’s steps takes Murdoch through the high and low streets of Victorian Toronto, bringing him from a den of doxies to the well-appointed parlors of the city’s most influential families. Everyone has secrets lurking in the shadows—and Murdoch is caught between his own conscience and pressure from above to solve the murder while shielding the city’s elite.