Quill and Quire


« Back to
Book Reviews

A Journeyman to Grief

by Maureen Jennings

A Journeyman to Grief is Maureen Jennings’ seventh Detective Murdoch mystery, and each has been as good as, or better than, the last. Within a few pages of her new novel we are so firmly and happily ensconced in the late-19th-century world she has created that modern contrivances such as computers and jet airplanes seem as far-off and fanciful to us as they would be to her characters.

This novel begins in 1858, when a young woman on her honeymoon in Niagara Falls is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the U.S., but most of the action takes place in Toronto 38 years later. That’s when the owner of a livery stable is strung up and whipped to death. Murdoch needs to establish not only who would want the man dead but who would feel such hate for him as to keep whipping him after he died. And then the elderly, relatively affluent black man who works part-time at the stable is found dead, shot and tied up.

During the first half of the novel Jennings offers us occasional glimpses of the unhappy life of the young woman from Toronto who was sold into slavery. There is, of course, a connection between this crime of the past and the ones Murdoch is trying to solve in 1896. Though that connection becomes obvious to the reader well before Murdoch wraps things up, there’s still a twist or two waiting at the end.

Fans of this series will be pleased to see that Murdoch’s personal life has stabilized – he is probably the happiest here that he has ever been. First-time readers can enjoy this as a standalone novel, and will have the additional pleasure of knowing there are six more Detective Murdoch novels waiting to be read.


Reviewer: Jeff George

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart


Price: $22.99

Page Count: 342 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 978-0-7710-4338-3

Released: May

Issue Date: 2007-5

Categories: Fiction: Novels