A Journeyman to Grief.


352 pages
ISBN 978-0-7710-4338-3
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Beryl Hamilton

Beryl Hamilton is a freelance writer in Thunder Bay who specializes in
home gardening.


This detective Murdoch mystery, the seventh in the series, opens in July 1858. A young woman is raped by a man she may know as she walks toward her carriage. The story jumps ahead to April 1896. Detective Murdoch, the plain but tenacious investigator, is reluctantly attending a lecture at the Toronto Medical School at the invitation of his friend, Dr. Julia Ogden. He receives an urgent message from officer Crabtree: a man’s body has been found in the livery stables at 73 Mutual Street. The victim is Daniel Cook, who appears to have been horsewhipped and is found hanging by the wrists. A stable hand, a black man named Elijah Green, discovered the body, but he is very reluctant to talk to Murdoch. Murdoch continues his investigations with no results when a second murder takes place. The victim turns out to be a former owner of the stables, suggesting some sinister connection between the killings. In trying to solve the mystery, Murdoch finds himself delving into the underground life of Toronto’s small black community, and he soon finds himself placed in great danger.

Though the plot and characters of this book are entirely fictional, Jennings has based her narrative on the true story of James Mink and his daughter, two prominent figures in Toronto’s black history. Her skilful evocation of late-19th-century Toronto, which relies on familiar landmarks and street names, is part of the book’s charm. Also excellent is the way Jennings mixes the suspense of the murder investigation with the intrigues of Murdoch’s private life (particularly his discreet romantic relationship with a freethinking woman named Amy). The plot offers, like any good mystery, a number of intriguing twists and turns, and we encounter a host of strange and colourful characters along the way. The narrative’s ultimate revelation of the culprit, while not quite a great surprise, is likely to leave the reader reasonably satisfied.


Jennings, Maureen., “A Journeyman to Grief.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed January 21, 2022, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/27725.