Under the Dragon's Tail by Maureen Jennings
A Detective Murdoch Mystery #2
❤ Official Synopsis ❤
Desperate women, rich and poor, come to her in need of help - and discretion. Dolly Merishaw is a midwife and an abortionist in Victorian Toronto, but although she keeps quiet about her clients' condition, her contempt and greed leaves them resentful and angry. So it comes as no surprise when this malicious woman is murdered. What is a shock, though, is that a week later a young boy is found dead in Dolly's squalid kitchen. Now, Detective Murdoch isn't sure if he's hunting one murderer - or two.
❤ My Thoughts ❤
My complaints of language and sexual innuendo of the first novel, Except the Dying, are still prevalent in the 2nd book in the Murdoch Mysteries.
However, I feel the plot was tighter, the characterization better, and I experienced a definite softening in my opinion of this very different Murdoch than the television version I'm accustomed to watching.
In fact, there is much to like about Detective William Murdoch. He's not fragile or naive, but he does his best to live life as uprightly as he can manage. He's undergoing sexual temptations right now, but instead of seeking out the wrong kind of female companionship, he's joined a dance class. It allows him to be near attractive, virtuous young women in the hopes that he may develop a relationship. He's all about constancy (or he wouldn't be mourning his deceased fiance this long) and so he's not going to indulge in a casual fling even when he's suffering serious sexual repression. Watch him go against character and succumb to temptation in the 3rd novel.
The mystery itself intrigued me, mostly because I suspect a great deal of readers might take offense at the "preposterous" notion that a midwife/abortionist might attempt to take advantage of any wealthy women who required her services. Imagine!? Murdoch comes up against so many tight-lipped liars in Under the Dragon's Tail that I'm impressed his head didn't spin. Was the killer this woman or that one? Was the killer the midwife's own poor, abused daughter, Lily? What of the little boys living under her roof, how are they involved? And what of the man whose chapters are so fleeting but tie into the story later in an AHAH moment of great clarity.
This is a complex story with many facets to it. Things I'd almost forgotten because they were mentioned only once suddenly became relevant at the end of the book, and I loved those moments when I suddenly understood who was who and what was what and where everyone stood.
Despite the language and promiscuity and sexual slang, I'm not scared off from the series yet. I read this one in about 24 hours simply because I could not put it down. And I've already got book 3 ready and raring to go. I've heard it's better than its predecessors so we'll see if it lives up to the praise!