If you follow my library columns here in The Richmond Register, you probably know by now my fondness for mysteries, particularly of the British sort. Even more, as a connoisseur of both TV and books, I adore a good series tie-in.
My latest "discovery" encompasses all of those.
The show is called Murdoch Mysteries, and it's based on the historical crime fiction novels of British Canadian author Maureen Jennings, the Detective Murdoch series. Set in Toronto, Ontario, around the turn of the 20th century, these stories follow the work of police detective William Murdoch, who, by a clever twist of revisionist history, invents (or at least imagines) most of our modern technological advances, particularly in the arena of crime investigation.
For example, he creates the first telegraph "faxed" photo (the constables in his station painstakingly paint squares on a giant canvas in various shades of gray). He is the first to use "fingermarks" for identification at crime scenes. He discovers ballistic evidence. He even meets many of the great inventors and authors of the day. Nikola Tesla is one of his good buddies. Arthur Conan Doyle uses him as the basis for a Sherlock Holmes story. He even gives a young Jack London the title of his most famous novel, The Call of the Wild.
It's a lot of fun to follow along on Murdoch's cases. If you are interested in checking out either the TV series or novels -- or both! -- you're in luck. The Madison County Public Library has them available for you to access with your library card and PIN.
Numerous Maureen Jennings novels are available for digital download with your library card from OverDrive/KY Libraries Unbound. And you can view 12 seasons of Murdoch Mysteries (plus a lot of bonus material) through the library's access to Acorn TV. Both of the services can be found on our website, www.madisonlibrary.org in the "Online Services" section at the bottom of the page.
So this week's booklist is all about Canadian crime fiction. Hope you get a chance to check some of these titles out with your trusty MCPL card!
No Known Grave, by Maureen Jennings
"It's summer, 1942, and after a tough couple of years, DI Tom Tyler is making a fresh start in Ludlow, Shropshire. On the outskirts of town, St. Anne's Convalescent Hospital, staffed by nursing sisters who are Anglican nuns, has been established in an old manor house to help victims of the war to recover. After a horrifying double murder is discovered on the grounds, Tyler must figure out how the crime could have occurred in such a secluded and presumably impenetrable place, where most of the patients are unable to walk or are blind, or both, not to mention deeply traumatized.
"To add to the puzzle, Tyler begins almost immediately to receive mysterious letters recounting terrible crimes far away. He realizes that he is not only seeking the murderer, but that the horrors of the war are closing in on this place that was meant to be a refuge.
"Maureen Jennings, beloved author of the Murdoch novels that inspired the popular TV series (known as The Artful Detective in the US), surpasses herself in this vivid portrayal of wartime Britain, brilliantly blending a classic murder mystery with a deeply human story of how the effects of war live on far from the fields of battle." From the cover
Available in eBook format through KY Libraries Unbound
Kingdom of the Blind, by Louise Penny
"When Armand Gamache receives a letter inviting him to an abandoned farmhouse outside of Three Pines, the former head of the Sûreté du Québec discovers that a complete stranger has named him as an executor of her will.
"Armand never knew the elderly woman, and the bequests are so wildly unlikely that he suspects the woman must have been delusional -- until a body is found, and the terms of the bizarre will suddenly seem far more menacing.
"But it isn't the only menace Gamache is facing. The investigation into the events that led to his suspension has dragged on, and Armand is taking increasingly desperate measures to rectify previous actions. As he does, Armand Gamache begins to see his own blind spots - and the terrible things hiding there." From GoodReads.com
Available in print in Richmond and Berea, audio in Richmond, Playaway audio in Berea, and eBook and eAudio through KY Libraries Unbound
Black Fly Season, by Giles Blunt
"When a beautiful young woman stumbles into a rough Algonquin Bay tavern covered in black fly bites, bits of leaves stuck in her curly red hair, the bartender knows she is either dumb or high. No one in Algonquin Bay goes out unprotected in black fly season.
"'Red,' as the local cops come to call her, is neither, but it takes a full examination to discover that her woozy behavior isn't due to drugs or diminished mental capacity. Red has a bullet in her brain. And no memory of how it got there or who she is.
"If homicide detectives John Cardinal and Lisa Delorme haven't a clue to her identity, they do know she is in mortal danger. Someone tried to kill her. Someone thought she was dead. Someone will try again if word leaks out she is not." From the cover
Available in print in Berea
Broken Promise, by Linwood Barclay
"After his wife's death and the collapse of his newspaper, David Harwood has no choice but to uproot his nine-year-old son and move back into his childhood home in Promise Falls, New York. David believes his life is in free fall, and he can't find a way to stop his descent.
"Then he comes across a family secret of epic proportions. A year after a devastating miscarriage, David's cousin Marla has continued to struggle. But when David's mother asks him to check on her, he's horrified to discover that she's been secretly raising a child who is not her own--a baby she claims was a gift from an 'angel' left on her porch.
"When the baby's real mother is found murdered, David can't help wanting to piece together what happened--even if it means proving his own cousin's guilt. But as he uncovers each piece of evidence, David realizes that Marla's mysterious child is just the tip of the iceberg.
"Other strange things are happening. Animals are found ritually slaughtered. An ominous abandoned Ferris wheel seems to stand as a warning that something dark has infected Promise Falls. And someone has decided that the entire town must pay for the sins of its past . . . in blood." From GoodReads.com
Available in print in Berea and eBook through KY Libraries Unbound
The Lost Ones, by Sheena Kamal
"It begins with a phone call that Nora Watts has dreaded for fifteen years--since the day she gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Bonnie has vanished. The police consider her a chronic runaway and aren't looking, leaving her desperate adoptive parents to reach out to her birth mother as a last hope.
"A biracial product of the foster system, transient, homeless, scarred by a past filled with pain and violence, Nora knows intimately what happens to vulnerable girls on the streets. Caring despite herself, she sets out to find Bonnie with her only companion, her mutt Whisper, knowing she risks reopening wounds that have never really healed--and plunging into the darkness with little to protect her but her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.
"The search uncovers a puzzling conspiracy that leads Nora on a harrowing journey of deception and violence, from the gloomy rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy white mountains of the Canadian interior, to the beautiful and dangerous island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born." From the cover
Available in print in Berea and eBook through KY Libraries Unbound