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Under the Dragon's Tail

(Detective Murdoch #2)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,148 ratings  ·  101 reviews
Women rich and poor come to her, desperate and in dire 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 for them and her greed leaves every one of them resentful and angry. So it comes as no surprise to Detective William Murdoch when this malicious wom ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 1998)
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Carissa It's different than the tv series, much grittier, and the characters have far more flaws. It also has much more language and sexual content and…moreIt's different than the tv series, much grittier, and the characters have far more flaws. It also has much more language and sexual content and innuendo. Still, I'm finding the books interesting, just very different from the television series and so long as I keep the two things separate in my mind, I go along just fine.(less)

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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,148 ratings  ·  101 reviews

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Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the second book in the Murdoch Mysteries series, set in Toronto in the late 1800s, and featuring Detective William Murdoch. The series spawned three movie length television films, and a five (so far) season television show. The television show is one of my favourite programmes, and I was eager to read the books. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, and this one is no disappointment either.

In this installment of the Murdoch Mysteries, a woman named Dolly Merishaw is found mu
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 m
Sara Eames
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book - however, if you are expecting the characters from the TV series Murdoch Mysteries, you stand a chance of being somewhat disappointed. The characters in the book are nothing like those on TV - as is so often the case. Provided you keep this in mind, you should enjoy this book if you like murders (reading about them, that is, not committing them).

The characters are well-written and the plot moves at a steady pace. The murder is solvable (although I didn't solve all of it) and
Erin L
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I started this series here, with the second book in the series. Had I not known that this was the second in the series, I wouldn't have guessed it was. Perhaps it's because I've watched the TV series, but previous books/cases weren't mentioned and the author did a wonderful job of writing the characters to not make it seem like the second in a series.

I really enjoyed this, but for fans of the TV show, I will say that the TV show strays from the books - this has a much stronger focus on Murdoch w
Crossposted at Booklikes.

I first came across Detective Murdoch when watching television while in Toronto. Recently the series has made its way onto American cable via the Ovation network and under the title The Artful Detective.

Murdoch is a Catholic in the Protestant city of Toronto, at the end of the 1800s. He is a thinking man, a more accessible version of Sherlock Holmes, who attracts the ladies even as he is getting over the death of his love. He is tasked with the job of discovering the mu
UNDER THE DRAGON’S TAIL (Pol. Proc-Toronto, Canada-late 1800s) – G
Jennings, Maureen - 2nd in series
St. Martin’s Press, 1998- Hardcover
*** In the midst of training for a police tournament, Acting-Detective William Murdoch is called to investigate the death of Dolly Merishaw, a woman who had “taken care” of pregnancies for women rich and poor. She has left behind two small “foster” boys and a young woman who doesn’t speak and has disappeared following Dolly’s death. Dolly had secrets, but she is n
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
My favorite bit of this book: Julia! One of my favorite feisty feminist TV characters is actually in the book series. Granted, her part is very small, but she exists! Now to hope that she shows up in later books...

I read the third book in the series before this one, and the "romance" with Mrs. Jones isn't one at all--from the third book, I thought that something (anything!) must have happened, but no. As I'm slowly learning from this series, Jennings does a very nice job of characterization with
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Under the Dragon’s Tail is a terrific historical mystery set in Victorian Toronto, Canada. Author Maureen Jennings does such a superb job of recreating the vocabulary, lifestyles, and values of the time that I was fully immersed in the story. Great historical novels provide insightful looks at the lives, behavior, customs, and thoughts of a wide array of people. In this case, the novel provides a revealing glimpse into poverty and the plight of women in difficult situations.

I don’t often see thi
Kathleen Hagen
Under the Dragon’s Tail, by Maureen Jennings, a-minus, narrated by David Marrantz, produced by Audible Inc. and downloaded from

This is the second in the Detective Murdoch series in 1855 Victorian Canada. In this one, a woman is found dead. She has two little boys living with her, supposedly foster children, and she has a daughter who is deaf and can’t talk and who others think is stupid. Detective Murdoch learns that the dead woman, Dolly, was not liked by anyone. She ran a home for
Miłośniczka Książek
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: krymina
"Kto powinien sięgnąć po tę książkę? Miłośnicy kryminałów, zwłaszcza tych retro. Amatorzy detektywistycznych zagadek rozwiązywanych w starym, dobrym stylu. Pasjonaci spraw, których wyjaśnienie do samego końca pozostaje tajemnicą. Czytelnicy ceniący towarzystwo wyrazistych i nietuzinkowych bohaterów. Osoby szanujące swój czas, pragnące przeczytać coś, co ich w pełni usatysfakcjonuje – coś, co nie będzie tylko czystą rozrywką, ale też umysłową pożywką.

Jeśli choć jedno z powyższych stwierdzeń pasuj
Jacqueline Mudge-Cooke
Entering the world of Detective Murdoch was much different than I thought it would be, especially if you first discovered William Murdoch and the Toronto Constabulary through the TV show. This book was much more enjoyable, it was able to stand on it's own two legs. For the readers know the style that this series is written in. Since in Except the dying it's a sink or swim to the reader that probably would come from the TV show, it might crack your mind if you don't separate the two Murdoch unive ...more
Alright, so this pretty much did not amaze me in any manner. I'm thinking that maybe if I was in a better mood I could have possibly given this three, but with my current outlook I couldn't say that I actually liked reading this.

Strangely, most of the characters still seem rather flat and uninspired to me, the plot wasn't all that difficult to figure out, even from early on. I don't think a single thing that happened managed to surprise me in any way, which is disappointing in a mystery. And if
Oct 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Suade by: celtic cat
When I first started reading this book I thought it was going to be really slow and drab but as I got a bit more into it I was easily pulled into the "who-dunnit" mode and I was hooked. Nothing too spectacular, no really amazing twists or turns but it was a good mystery, set back in the late 1800s of Toronto, Canada. A nice short read.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dolly Merishaw used to play a major role in the lives of many women in Toronto. She was a midwife, which means that she helped birth a good number of little ones ... and it also meant that she knew the secrets of a number of women who also needed some of her other skills in order to avoid or terminate pregnancies. Dolly is now faced with a downturn in her life. She has taken in three children: a teen girl who is mute and a pair of older boys. She is also stuggling to make ends meet. In order to ...more
Terrie Wepner
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love mystery/suspense books. The main character here, Detective William Murdoch is a fun and interesting character to follow. I've been watching the Murdoch Mysteries on TV in "The Artful Detective" series, and enjoy them very much. Very endearing characters in this book -- some less than others, but even they elicited much sympathy from me. Very human in their mistakes and flaws. Author Maureen Jennings mixes diverse characters very well, for a VERY good read. I love stories set in this time ...more
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you find the TV version of Murdoch Mysteries overly sanitized and unrealistic, then the books will come as a revelation. The book version of 1890's Toronto is much dirtier, full of poverty, illness, unhygienic conditions, and squalor. The people are riddled with venereal disease, lice, horrible teeth, strange growths and/or just plain smell bad.

I really like the books - far better than the television series. Intriguing plots, engaging characters (even if they have consumption or bad teeth) an
Alyssia Cooke
Whilst this is an interesting mystery tale, it failed to grip me in the same way that the first did. I found the varying threads took too long to come together and I was largely nonplussed for the majority of the novel. I did appreciate the loose ends that were left to the readers imagination at the end though. Whilst the law might be satisfied there are questions left both for the reader and for Murdoch.

I enjoyed it but I wasn't gripped and I found myself frustrated by how long various unspeci
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Much more serious than the television series. So far, in book two, Julia has only made her presence known in one phone call; so I don't know if she will become Murdoch's love interest, as in the tv show. So far there are his dancing partner and the young widow who lives in his boarding house. We have a rather cheery opinion of Canada, but this series shows it has as dark a history as anywhere in the US.
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Okay this continues my historical fiction set in Toronto, week written and gritty but I hated the ending. It seemed trite and forced and even in the era it was written for a stretch to believe.
It does give us more insight into Murdoch which is always interesting.
The characters were a little difficult to keep track of and I think the middle lagged a little making me put it down for a month before finishing it.
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second installment in the Murdoch Mysteries involves a twists and turns and a lot of suspects to sort through.

Maureen Jennings writes very evocatively and you get a real sense of the late 19th century when reading.

Murdoch is a great character and I enjoy reading his thought processes and following him as he solves the case.
Ice Bear
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
We got there in the end, but yet to see too much experimentation and insight from the detective. Rounded 3 stars to 4! ...more
This was an enjoyable read. The plot was a little complicated and it felt like there were scenes edited out causing the story to skip a bit. Entertaining enough to want to keep reading the series.
Andy Plonka
Apr 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: src
A bit convoluted but a good police procedural all the same.
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm enjoying the Detective Murdoch's series. Love this era set in Toronto, and love Jennings' writing.
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love this series.
April Wilson
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shameful secrets. Unexpected and possibly unwanted pregnancies. A midwife learns a lot of things while patients are under her care. A woman dies and the on-scene initial check indicates accidental causes, but further examination reveals that she was murdered. When it comes to light that she used to be a midwife, Detective Murdoch needs to find out whether it was something in her past or present that set things in motion towards this ultimate ending. Plenty of things captures the attention (and i ...more
Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Under the Dragon's Tail is a police procedural set in Toronto, Canada in the late 1800s. Detective Murdoch is summoned to investigate the death of a woman in a rundown rooming house. At first, it appears to be an accident, a drunken fall. However, evidence soon indicates that the woman, Dolly Merishaw, was murdered. Dolly was a mean, hard living, beer drinking, midwife and abortionist. She had three charges in her care; a mute daughter and two young fosters, both boys. Once Murdoch learns this a ...more
Courtney Williams
The book: Murdoch Mysteries: Under The Dragon's Tail

The author: Maureen Jennings, British-born Canadian author.

The subject: Murdoch investigates the murder of an abortionist who made a lot of enemies during her life, but when a young boy is also found dead in her house a week later he's forced to consider how many killers he's hunting.

Why I chose it: I quite liked the first book in the series and thought I'd give this one a go.

The rating: Three out of five stars

What I thought of it: Again, I was
Rene Natan
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Review of Maureen Jennings’ Under the Dragon’s Tail, Harper Paperback, 1999

Women, and the hard life they often had in the olden days, dominate this story. When mid-wife Dolly Merishaw is murdered, Detective William Murdoch enters in action. Not only Dolly had secrets of her own, but she also knew those of some women who crossed her path. She recorded their miseries in a book with the sign of the dragon stamped on the cover. Her mute daughter, Lily, and her two adopted boys are under suspicion fo
I am a big fan of "The Artful Detective"/"Murdoch Mysteries" television series, and when I noticed these books mentioned in the credits, I asked my library for every one they had. There are seven altogether, of which I received three.

"Under the Dragon's Tail" is the second of the novels. Acting-Detective William Murdoch, of Toronto's 4th Station, is training for a big bicycle race during the upcoming Policemen's Athletic Games. He's also dealing with the death of his fiancée a mere month before
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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

Other books in the series

Detective Murdoch (8 books)
  • Except the Dying (Detective Murdoch, #1)
  • 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)