Investigating Murdoch Mysteries is the official companion book to the Canadian TV series Murdoch Mysteries. Based on the popular books by Maureen Jennings, the TV show – one of the many adaptations of the novels – follows Detective Murdoch as he makes his way through Victorian Toronto in the 1890s.
I started watching the TV show after I received this book for review, and quite enjoyed it. After binge-watching an entire season over the span of three days, I was thoroughly prepared to review this book. For those of you who have yet to delve into the world of Murdoch Mysteries, a warning: the book does contain some spoilers.
Michelle Ricci, producer of the show, Mir Bahmanyar, and Maureen Jennings present an in-depth and insightful blueprint of the TV show for new viewers and fans alike. This aesthetically pleasing guide to Murdoch Mysteries explores the plot, characters, themes, and a lot of behind-the-scenes detail that illustrates the making of a successful detective show.
I hadn’t read a companion book since my short-lived obsession with the Twilight saga when I was thirteen, but this one was genuinely quite an enjoyable read, more so because I was familiar with the show and was enjoying the plot thoroughly. Investigating Murdoch Mysteries covers the intricacies of making the show, from the realization of the book characters, and the essence of Toronto in the 1890s, all to the 100th episode in what seems like no time at all. Needless to mention, I breezed through it.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the TV show is the era its set in, and what that means for the plot. At the turn of the century (1895), the Victorian Toronto of Murdoch Mysteries serves as an optimistic backdrop, budding with inventions. The show introduces technology that we use regularly today as prototypes, at the crux of its inception, achieving the distinctive steampunk ethos it seeks to capture. The book gives you a brief glimpse of how this world was created.
Toronto today is not an easy place to shoot a television series set over one hundred years ago. Busy streets, modern signage, altered architecture make it nearly impossible to find a location that can be made to look as it used to be. – a passage from Investigating Murdoch Mysteries
Investigating Murdoch Mysteries lays open each character and the instruments used in its creation for your inspection. You get the opportunity to study the layers of complexity in the character of William Murdoch, rich with detail in the companion guide. It elucidates how an iconic character is built with adherence to the attention to detail – from the many elemnets in his backstory to the very environment the character resides within.
Murdoch’s office set is my favourite. It looks the part… like the inner workings of William’s mind and also because it’s where the whole story begins for me. – Yannick Bisson (Detective William Murdoch)
The book also elaborates on how Murdoch’s character and the backdrop of a Protestant Toronto interweave. As a Roman Catholic in a mostly Protestant community, William Murdoch is designed to be an outsider – and one with a difficult background, but these contradictions do not make him a jaded character.
I enjoy how William isn’t jaded at all, even to a fault. – Yannick Bisson
The book provides backstories and key facts about every character, piping in with little “did you know?” snippets about the TV show every few pages. Each character is introduced in an easy and newbie-friendly manner, with full-color images and quirky introductory quotes by the character. It explores relationships between characters, as well as themes that intertwine different aspects of the show together.
As a student and enthusiast of history, it was really exciting every time the show introduced a notable historical figure – almost always as a catalyst for the plot – throughout the season. From Nikola Tesla to Thomas Edison, it was like watching a cameo from your favorite celebrity. Investigating Murdoch Mysteries provides a glossary of all the historical figures that are portrayed in the show, including their involvement in the plot.
I finished this book in one sitting, and by the end of it, I was well determined to watch the series till the end. I highly recommend this companion to anyone who is a fan or wishes to immerse themselves into the world of Murdoch Mysteries. The show completed its eighth season earlier this year, with the production of the ninth season underway.
A copy of the book was provided by the publisher for review.