Let Loose the Dogs
This is the 4th book in Jennings’ mystery series set in late 19th century Toronto, featuring Acting Detective William Murdoch. Murdoch’s family is very much in the limelight in this volume: both his sister, who long ago became a cloistered nun, and his father, whom Murdoch has not seen since he was a boy. Murdoch has been given a week’s leave from his job, which comes at a propitious moment. The policeman’s father comes back into his life when Murdoch finds out his parent has been convicted of murder and will soon be put to death for the crime. Despite Murdoch’s antipathy for his father, he is determined to investigate, to make sure the correct man will be hanged. The investigation takes him into world of “ratters”—dogs that kill rats for sport. I found the very first scene in the book (a description of the dogs ratting) disturbing, but this was the only such description, and it was not gratuitous. Jennings’ descriptions of 19th century Toronto are vivid and immediate. She also excels at characterization. I recommend this series, and this entry in it, highly. If you are new to her books, start with the first, Except the Dying, if possible.