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Except the Dying (Detective Murdoch, #1)
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Except the Dying (Detective Murdoch #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  1,860 Ratings  ·  278 Reviews
In the cold Toronto winter of 1895, the unclad body of a servant girl is found frozen in a deserted laneway. Detective William Murdoch quickly finds out that more than one person connected with the girl’s simple life has something to hide.
Paperback, 344 pages
Published May 18th 2004 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 1997)
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Bird Your local librarians can help you. Even if they do not own a copy for you to borrow, they can try to get one from another library, and allow you to…moreYour local librarians can help you. Even if they do not own a copy for you to borrow, they can try to get one from another library, and allow you to borrow it.

If you would rather own it, is an option if you have a few books you are willing to swap.(less)

Community Reviews

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I honestly admit, I'm a bit confused by this book. On the one hand, I really like it, but on the other, I am quite annoyed with it. Let me break it down into what worked and what didn't. Warning, here there be spoilers!

What worked:
The attention to detail. This book is slow, building on the minutiae of daily life. As each day goes by, you learn more of the aspects of Victorian Canadian daily interactions. I liked this. There wasn't any sudden hook to force the characters into impossible reactive
Nov 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Join Murdoch as he begins a case, attempting to find the cold blooded murderer of an innocent teenage girl... Twist in and out through the turns and flips as the story unfolds and mirror Murdoch as he figures out just who had done the heinous crime.

This is of course, the predecessor to the television series (which I happen to be a massive fan of!), but if you are a fan of the TV series I can safely say that you will most likely enjoy this too - but you must be aware that book Murdoch is slightl
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book in a series of seven, which are collectively known as the Murdoch Mysteries, all of which feature a Canadian Police Detective named William Murdoch, who solves crimes in the late 1800s, in Toronto. Three of the novels were adapted into television movies, starring Peter Outerbridge as the title character, and a five season (so far) television show, with Yannick Bisson in the title role, featuring the characters from the books, but with all new storylines, has proved very su ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
The Murdoch Mysteries remain one of my favorite feel-good shows - the characters are awesome, the murders always interesting, and the science is fun. I've read critiques that some people object to Murdoch (and even more so, Julia) being so progressive, but wasn't this the age of suffragettes (New Zealand granted women the vote in 1893) and other social upheavals in the wake of the rapid changes in society and technology? In my season 1-3 DVD box there were also the 3 original tv movies with Pete ...more
Mar 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of the TV show for the past few years I was thrilled to learn that the show was based on a book series and had to see how the two stacked up against each other.

Allowing the book to stand on its own it was a well done mystery. Going through it I thought I had figured out who had committed the murder and was constantly changing this answer up until the end. The story itself had me genuinely interested and it took no time at all to have this story read.

Having the show in my head made readi
It's a bit of a shock going into this book thinking it'll be all charming and quaint like Canada's television series starring Yannick Bisson. In reality, there is nothing charming or quaint about this book series. It's gritty, it's hard, it possesses a great deal of language and sexual innuendo, and there is not a single character who is wholly likeable or lovable, not even Detective William Murdoch although he's probably more realistic as a flawed human being. Still, I love the Murdoch of the t ...more
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I can’t believe it’s already the first of February and I haven’t posted one review. In my own defence I got that horrific cold that’s going around – it’s a bad one – so stay healthy everybody. I still have the tail end of the cough. Also, every time I fired up the computer I had other things to do on it. After being downsized out the door at my job at the end of last year I decided that while I have the safety net of unemployment benefits I am going to try to start a small home based business – ...more
Katherine Becvar
May 04, 2013 rated it liked it
A nice gentle mystery, reminiscent of Poirot. Lots of great historical detail, particularly in the slang.
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book by Maureen Jennings. The world that she created in Victorian Toronto was just wonderful, and her characters, particularly her lower class ones, were so colorful and well written. The world and the people inhabiting it were gritty and rough around the edges. Even the people in the upper class were less than classy. I really enjoy the Murdoch Mysteries TV series, but honestly, it doesn't hold a candle to this book. The characters in the book are gritter and
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I wonder how many people have read this series without seeing the TV show first?

Once you get over that the books are nothing at all like the series, I actually rather enjoyed this. Murdoch has much more of a bite and is more like a real person than the archetype of a perfect detective. He gets crabby, he (lightly) swears, he dislikes people--characteristics you don't really see on the show.

The mystery didn't make a whole lot of sense, and I still have questions about just how Murdoch solved the
Jun 03, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is so much grittier than CityTv's tv series. Almost every page mentions some noxious smell of a hundred twenty-five years ago, and Murdoch seems more diligent and less exceptional than on tv. Personally, I find him even more likable.

This is not the Toronto of "Ontario the Good." The city is full of starving children, desperate diseased prostitutes, alcoholism, and open vicious prejudice. Murdoch, while no saint himself, tries to navigate the hungry city to find his man. My one complai
An Odd1
Aug 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery prefer favorite TV series where author consults. Elegant dresses hats gloves, inventors inventions (Tesla, Bell; lie-detector, airplane), humor - they laugh at modern impossibilities, like CN tower silhouette. Both address serious issues of the last century.

"Except the dying" is from an Emily Dickinson verse beginning "The last night that she lived" , and opens with such a scene. Catches morbid curiosity. Clothes are surreptitiously stolen from a pretty f
I really did want to like this book, because I love the tv series, but I just couldn't. Pace was very slow, things just went around and around in circles, and the story went off into remembrances that had absolutely nothing to do with the story. Narrator was adequate, but there were lots of long pauses that made no sense. Very disappointing. <><
Cathy Cole
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First Line: They started with the boots, which looked new.

It is bitterly cold in Toronto in the winter of 1895, and the nude body of a servant girl has been found frozen in the snow on a deserted path. Acting detective William Murdoch is assigned the case, and he hopes that he can solve it quickly and with distinction. After all, he's been an acting detective for three years, and unless someone is transferred or dies, it looks as though his career is stalled. But the more he investigates, the lo
Oct 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
this is probably my first historical mystery since my childhood attempts at arthur conan doyle, so my take on the genre probably isn't worth much. that said, this is a fun, engaging novel with a nice sense of toronto at the tail end of the 19th century. there's something charmingly restrained about its narrative, which has all the sordid details i expect from a murder mystery but still finds room for a good-hearted, cautious, gentle christian protagonist. as a look at christianity, the book is p ...more
It almost feels trite to compare the book to the series, but it's sort of inevitable, so I'll get it over quickly. There are several differences, sadly most of the differences caused me to like it less than I could have. I'd probably say that Crabtree wasn't nearly as vibrant and hilarious as he is in the show, and that was huge letdown. (Although, thank God for the lack of Dr. Ogden.)

As a book on its own, it wasn't too bad. The beginning was a trifle slow, with a large cast of minor characters
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a huge fan of "The Artful Detective," as the "Murdoch Mysteries" are known in the US. I have all of the available seasons on DVD. I've all four of the movies. I've now also read several of the books.

So, now that that's out of the way ... you know going into it that I'm a fan.

In this book, Toronto police detective William Murdoch is investigating the murders of two women. One is found with no clothing, and it takes a while to identify that she is the maid of a well-to-do family. The other is
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've finally given in to the electronic revolution and read my first ebook on the iPad! After watching all four seasons of the Murdoch Mysteries this summer, I was curious about the books. The characters are a little different and Murdoch's love interest was missing from this first installment, but overall it was quite an enjoyable book and a very quick read. I love the setting of turn of the century Toronto; the author has clearly done her research and it was easy to imagine myself wandering th ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-5-star-books
This was a pretty good first novel in a historical fiction series. Unfortunately, my opinion was probably colored by the fact that I watched the TV series first. My perceptions of Murdoch were colored by what I had seen in the series, which didn't add up. However, once I got over that, I was able to enjoy the story more. The storyline itself was interesting, a sort of upstairs/downstairs story where everyone has secrets to keep. I was fine with the ending. It wrapped up in a way that made sense ...more
Mar 02, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a disappointment after the Canadian TV series. The characters with whom I fell in love in the first season of "Murdock Mysteries" are really nothing like the ones in the book. In the book, they're not nearly as likeable, and definitely not as lovable. Then there's the constant stream of innuendos, which was annoying in the first few chapters, chafing in the next few, and downright painful in the last few. All in all, not worth the hours it takes to read.
May 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
I really wanted to read this first book about Detective William Murdoch since I really enjoy the Canadian television series. The book is well-written, with lots of twists and turns as to who the murderer turned out to be. Murdoch is a little different from the tv character, but that is to be expected. I plan to read the second book by Ms. Jennings. I hope Constable Crabtree and Inspector Brackenreid is more prominent in the books to come.
Nov 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have to agree with other reviewers who've seen the series first and then read the book: book is definitely weaker. Murdoch is drawn somewhat shallow and other characters lack unique personalities save some of them. I'd probably rate the book higher if hadn't followed the series for a while.
There are two things that left me unsatisfied in addition to character development: what was the motive for the murder and why bring in Mr. X to carry the crucial part of the solution?
Scott Williams
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a fan of the Murdoch Mysteries television series for a few years but am only now getting around to reading the original novels. This is a fairly simple story but Jennings' writing makes it a wonderful read. It's obvious that she's done a great deal of research and her attention to detail is wonderful. In a way, this book is a valentine to Toronto. Jennings' descriptions really bring 19th century Toronto to life. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Decent police procedural but I'm obviously spoiled by the attractive character played by Yannick Bisson in the TV series, because the personalities are not nearly as strong in the book, the solution seems rather motiveless, and watching before reading made it clear how very loosely the books are related to the series. Obviously I'm not the only one because it was tough to get ahold of this through my public library and it's the first in the series.
Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. Wanted to read it because I had been watching the Murdoch Mysteries. Although it was a bit different than the series, it was a lot of fun to read. Didn't even skip to the end to see what happened and for anyone knows my reading style that was really something.
Miłośniczka Książek
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: krymina
Zachęcam do zapoznania się z moją recenzją dostępną na moim blogu:
A decent historical thriller. I enjoyed Jennings's style but I would enjoy it more in a different genre.
Jun 30, 2012 marked it as to-read
There are books about Murdoch Mysteries?!

Me gusta. I want.
This was tough because I've already seen many seasons of the TV show that's based on this book, so I had a very good idea of what to expect. And man was this different! I didn't expect the book to be so gritty and dark, and at times, disturbing. I missed the "sweet as apple pie" feeling I usually get from the TV show. Murdoch, our main character, was quite different from the show. I wanted more of the supporting characters, especially Crabtree. And Dr. Ogden wasn't in the book at all.

Overall a
Nicole EM
Jul 30, 2017 marked it as to-read
Rating: To Come

I am really excited to start this series. I am a HUGE fan of the TV series. It is amazing in every sense of the word. I love the setting of Toronto in the early 1900s. I love the methods Murdoch uses to solve each and logic. I also love the reference to modernday technology. And, of course I love all the characters...there is not one character that I don't like, they all make the show what it is today. Who ever dreamed up the Murdoch Mysteries series is an absolute
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Maureen Jennings, now a Canadian Citizen, was born on Eastfield Road in Birmingham, England and spent her formative years there until she emigrated to Canada at the age of seventeen with her mother.

This has meant that she still feels a deep connection with her homeland. It has also no doubt been a strong influence in her love for, and her writing about, the Victorian period. She attended the Unive
More about Maureen Jennings...

Other Books in the Series

Detective Murdoch (8 books)
  • Under the Dragon's Tail (Detective Murdoch, #2)
  • Poor Tom Is Cold (Detective Murdoch, #3)
  • Let Loose the Dogs (Detective Murdoch, #4)
  • Night's Child (Detective Murdoch, #5)
  • Vices of My Blood (Detective Murdoch, #6)
  • A Journeyman to Grief (Detective Murdoch, #7)
  • Let Darkness Bury the Dead (Detective Murdoch #8)