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Except the Dying

A Murdoch Mystery, Book 1
Written by: Maureen Jennings
Narrated by: David Marantz
Series: Detective Murdoch, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 11 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the cold Toronto winter of 1895, the naked body of a servant girl is found frozen in a deserted laneway. The young victim was pregnant when she died. Detective William Murdoch soon discovers that many of those connected with the girl's life have secrets to hide. Was her death on attempt to cover up a scandal in one of the city's influential families?

©1997 Maureen Jennings (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"A finely flavored plot, credible characters, and detailed atmosphere make this a winner." ( Library Journal)
"Turn-of-the-century Toronto makes an evocative setting for murder in Except the Dying, a skillful first novel that is interesting both for its historical accuracy and its fully realized characters." (Amazon.com review)

What listeners say about Except the Dying

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • connie
  • 2012-06-22

Gritty not grisly; above average Victorian mystery

I am biased because I LOVED the Canadian setting -- but that could make this series of interest to other fans of the rapidly-multiplying Victorian-set mystery genre: the Toronto setting helps the listen keep some of the genre cliches at bay. The strength of the novel is its depiction of the daily grind of the poor - The author goes beyond trite description and into the chamber pots and privies. It's also the kind of police procedural that describes more scenes of tea drinking conversations than Hollywood-hopeful action.

Parts of the listen make it identifiably a first novel, but I really look forward to the rest of the series for summer listening. I am undecided about the narrator - it sounds like a site-read job, but he seems to handle some of the regional accents well and with imagination.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Melissa Ramsey
  • 2016-02-23

Great mystery

Loved the plot and characters, but it doesn't measure up to the CBC television show.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 2016-06-09

If you like the show - don't buy

Between the engorged male parts and the naked breasts this was a horrible mystery. I got this book cause my husband and I love the television series. Light funny and a good mystery show and this book was none of that. I hated and it took everything in me to finish it. I will not get any more in the series. Horrible just horrible.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Gail
  • 2015-09-18

Detective Murdoch

I listened to this because I have watched Artful Detective, the series based on Maureen Jennings' books, during the last year. Entertaining mystery. I pictured the characters like the TV series rather than the description and got into the story, feeling like I was seeing it as it went along.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Melissa Rose
  • 2020-03-02

Slow burn

Okay, so, this is technically a reread, however, as a fan of Murdoch Mysteries, I thought that it was about time that I returned to the series of novels that started it all. Sadly, Except the Dying was not as good as I had remembered.

First off, if you are coming to this series hoping for a similar experience to the television series, you are barking up the wrong tree. Book Murdoch is a lot more gritty, and a lot less PG (lots of swearing and sexual innuendos).

As for the actual mystery, I found this novel a bit of a slow burn; I was approximately three-quarters of the way through the book when I started getting interested in what was happening.

In terms of narration, David Marantz was mediocre and rather monotone. I found myself rewinding several times because I had started to tune out his voice and missed part of the plot. Although to be fair, Marantz's voice did sound remarkably like the television Murdoch.

Overall, Except the Dying was an average mystery; It wasn't the worst I have read, but it was also not the best. I will probably continue with the series, though, as I remember the books do get better.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Show1
  • 2020-02-07

waste of a credit

I love the Murdock mysteries on TV. The book version is not even close to being the same.
The narrative was terrible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Adrienne Percival
  • 2015-08-13

Fine story, difficult to get into

I love the TV show based on this series so I thought I'd love the books. Instead I started it three different times before I managed to get into it. I think flashing back and forth between present and recent past while obscuring the characters to maintain the mystery for me didn't translate as well to audio. There were times had I been holding a book I'd have flipped back a page or two to clear up confusion.

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  • ChalyceS
  • 2015-07-08

Ok but not the best

The story is not the nice story I have enjoyed in the Murdoch Mysteries on the Canadian TV series. I'm more of a PG person. The narrator was choppy at times - not flowing smoothly.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Janet
  • 2015-07-30

Just becoming acquainted with William Murdock

I recently discovered Murdock Mysteries, a Canadian TV show based on Jennings novels and the world she has created . This is her first. I enjoyed the story. . a little convoluted.. not crazy about the narrator though. can't decide if I will read or listen to any others .

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kathleen
  • 2012-08-27

No. 1 in the Detective Murdoch series

Detective William Murdoch is called to a deserted laneway late at night in 1895 Toronto, where the naked corpse of a servant girl was found. The autopsy showed that she was pregnant, and that she was given a shot of morphine. This led to her freezing to death after being hit on the head causing unconsciousness. The girl was soon identified by the family who hired her. She was a modest quiet girl and everyone was shocked that she was pregnant. Who was the father of her baby? Could it be the husband or the son of the household? Was she killed because she was pregnant? And where were her clothes? Then Detective Murdoch finds her clothes hidden in the latrine of the house closest to the site where she was found, and one of the two prostitutes who had stolen her clothing also witnessed a carriage picking her up. Then, that prostitute turns up dead. Detective Murdoch is convinced that the two crimes are connected andf sets out to find out what happened. A very good mystery. This is my first by Jennings but won’t be my last.

2 people found this helpful