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by Maureen Jennings
McClelland & Stewart, November 2017
352 pages
ISBN: 0771050585

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The eighth and most recent entry in the hugely popular William Murdoch mystery series finds the Toronto detective at first delighted to have his son Jack return alive from the Great War. Only a year earlier Murdoch's only child marched off to fight in Europe; but now he has returned home after being wounded and gassed, and like so many others, suffering the psychological effects of that terrible conflict. He's accompanied by his close friend, another ex-soldier, Percy McKinnon.

Jack moves back in with his father, but Percy finds lodging with a Chinaman named Ghong Lee, who gives him some opium to help him cope with recurring nightmares in which he is forced to relive the horrors of war.

But within twenty-four hours of their return a young man is found beaten to death. Soon afterwards another young man commits suicide. Two more deaths follow. Although the men are killed in a variety of ways, they all die in a very small area of Toronto, suggesting that their deaths might be related, and Murdoch's joy over Jack's homecoming soon turns to concern when the deaths throw suspicion on Jack and his fellow soldier Percy. It is a father's worst nightmare.

Murdoch's investigation leads him into the shadowy world of illicit alcohol, gaming houses, and much more, as the story comes to a terrible and violent conclusion.

As we have come to expect, Jennings' tale eloquently captures the atmosphere of wartime Canada, set against the backdrop of a Toronto altered by that conflict. But there is also an underlying social theme to the story which reveals a divided Canada, encompassing not only those who went to war and the families who supported them, but also those who opposed conscription not only conscientious objectors but also women who argued against their husbands, sons, and brothers being sent off never to come home again, or at best, to return maimed and shattered by their experiences. LET DARKNESS BURY THE DEAD raises important moral issues that persist in conflicts today, in such far-flung places as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since 2005 Jim Napier's reviews and interviews have appeared in several Canadian newspapers and on various crime fiction and literary websites, including his own award-winning site, Deadly Diversions. His own crime novel, LEGACY, was published in the Spring of 2017. He can be reached at jnapier@deadlydiversions.com

Reviewed by Jim Napier, February 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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