A Journeyman to Grief (Murdoch Mysteries)

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9780771046797: A Journeyman to Grief (Murdoch Mysteries)
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  In 1858, a young woman on her honeymoon is abducted and taken across the border from Canada and sold into slavery. Thirty-eight years later, the owner of one of Toronto's livery stables is found dead. Then a second man is murdered, his body strangely tied as if he were a rebellious slave. Detective Murdoch has to find out whether Toronto's small "coloured" community has a vicious killer in its midst - an investigation that puts his own life in danger. With her usual masterful storytelling and sharp dialogue, Jennings shows how a great harm committed in the past can fatally affect the present.

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About the Author:

Born in England, MAUREEN JENNINGS taught English before becoming a psychotherapist. The first Detective Murdoch mystery was published in 1997. Six more followed, all to enthusiastic reviews. In 2003, Shaftesbury Films adapted three of the novels into movies of the week, and four years later the Murdoch Mysteries TV series was created; it is now shown around the world, including in the UK, the United States, and much of Europe. In Canada, CBC television is carrying on the series beginning in Fall 2012. Her new trilogy, set in World War II-era England, got off to a spectacular start with 2011's Season of Darkness, followed by Beware this Boy in Fall 2012. Maureen lives in Toronto with her husband and their dog and cat. Visit www.maureenjennings.com.

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CHAPTER ONE

JULY 1858
She glanced over her shoulder to see if he was coming. What could he be doing? He’d been gone more than half an hour, and all he’d had to do was pick up the forgotten tobacco pouch from their hotel room and come right back. They had planned to take the steamer boat across the Falls, but they’d miss it if he didn’t hurry. She shaded her eyes against the sun, but the road was deserted except for a carriage that was approaching slowly, the horse’s head drooping wearily. She consulted the gold fob watch that had been her father’s wedding present to her. It was a beautiful and extravagant gift, but the giving of it was marred by her father being in his cups and barely able to utter his congratulation, so that when she did consult the watch, her pride in its richness was tainted by her disappointment in him.

She shifted back on the bench. To her left, she could see a rainbow arching over the high-flung spray of the cascading water. She had been excited to come here for her honeymoon, but the week so far had been less than happy. Initially, she had been self-conscious, sure that the other guests were staring at them in disapproval. When she confessed this to her husband, he was dismissive rather than kind, but she clung to his words: “You are the most beautiful woman in the room. The men covet you and the women are envious. Nobody knows. They think you are a Spanish countess.”

She longed for him to say more, but in the short time they had been married, she had learned not to press forward with any discussion he didn’t want to have. When he was courting her, he had been tender and solicitous, but nothing, not even her Aunt Hattie’s blunt warnings about “man’s nature,” had prepared her for the roughness of their conjugal relations. She couldn’t hide her discomfort, and he was impatient with her. “I wouldn’t have expected such coldness from you of all people.” She had cried so hard the first night that he had finally relented and teased and tickled her into a precarious laughter. This morning, she’d woken to find him sitting on the edge of the bed, looking at her. He had kissed her fiercely. “Today, I want you to wear your best blue silk gown, your largest crinoline, and your big hat with the peacock feathers. You will be the belle of the promenade.”

So she had, and laced herself with unnecessary tightness that she now regretted on this hot day. Another quick check of the watch. What could be keeping him?

She heard the soft jingle of a horse’s bridle and looked over her shoulder again. The carriage had halted and a man was coming across the grass toward her. He was heavy-set with a full untrimmed beard and moustache. His clothes and skin looked grubby. She fancied she could smell his stale sweat, but that impression might have been born only later, when he was on top of her. Somehow, from the first, her flesh knew who he was even though her mind would not accept it. Ever afterwards, she scourged herself for not immediately running toward the protection of the few visitors who were hanging over the railings watching the water. But then he was talking to her and she made the terrible mistake of listening.

“Ma’am, I must ask you to accompany me. I have bad news. Your husband has been taken ill. He’s in your hotel.”

She gasped. “What has happened to him?”

The man shrugged. “I can’t say. All I know is I was sent to find you and bring you to him at once. The doctor’s been summoned. You’re staying at the Grand, ain’t you?”

She nodded, not taking her eyes from his face, from the mouth that was smiling at her so falsely. Suddenly he stepped forward, and in one swift movement he pulled her from the bench. In a ghastly parody of an embrace, he crushed her against his chest so that her hat was almost knocked off her head, her nose and mouth were smothered, and she couldn’t breathe. She felt herself being carried to the carriage and thrust inside.

There was another man within whom she couldn’t see because she was shoved to the floor face down and at the same time something was stuffed in her mouth. It was vile-tasting and leathery, like a glove. The man pinned her with his knee, and in a moment he’d tied her hands behind her back. The carriage lurched forward.

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