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In his forties, the Reverend Charles Howard still cut an impressive figure. A married Presbyterian minister in Toronto’s east end, Howard was popular with the congregation that elected him, especially with the ladies, and most particularly with Miss Sarah Dignam. Respected in the community, Howard, as Visitor for the House of Industry, sat in judgment on the poor, assessing their applications for the workhouse. But now Howard is dead, stabbed and brutally beaten by someone he invited into his office. His watch and boots are missing. Has some poor beggar he turned down taken his vengeance?
Murdoch’s investigation takes him into the arcane Victorian world of queer plungers - men who fake injury all the better to beg - and the destitute who had nowhere left to turn when they knocked on the Reverend Howard’s door.
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By Kathleen on 08-27-12
No. 6 in the Murdoch Series, 1895 Toronto
In the sixth book of the series, Detective Murdoch is called to a church where there is the body of the dead minister in his office with a letter opener sticking out of his neck. The police are summoned by one of the church ladies who have come to get ready for a prayer meeting. She is extremely upset and the rumor is that she has thrown herself at the minister despite the fact that he is married. His wife is not well liked in the congregation. So was the minister killed by someone in his congregation who had it in for him? Or was he killed by a thief? His new boots and his silver watch are missing. At the same time there is a group of “queer plungers” roaming around who fake accidents and then collect money from the charity of strangers who witness the accident. Murdoch catches three such “plungers” and gets them to assist him in finding out whether or not a homeless person is involved in the murder. Also, there is the possibility that one of the families the minister turned down for the workhouse has it in for him, and this theory is compounded when one of those families is killed by carbon monoxide, along with others in their house, because of a blocked chimeney. Murdoch puts himself into the workhouse and a homeless shelter over-night to try to track down the thieves at least who stole the boots and watch of the dead minister. This is again a very compelling book.
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