Title: Making a Killing (A Maggie Fitzmorris Mystery #1)
Author: Norah Winter
Published on: 28 January 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery (historical)
Making a Killing is a first book (novella) in Norah Winter’s Maggie Fitzmorris Mystery series.
Set in the year 1931, the story introduces the reader to Dr. Maggie Fitzmorris, protagonist/main character. While other women of her age have gotten married and have children/in the family way, Maggie decided to pursue her love for forensic pathology. She’d applied to many jobs and each one of them turned her down… until, she received an acceptance letter from Sunnyville, a small city in Saskatchewan. But there are a few conditions. Maggie must agree not to marry for five years so that she devote herself to the job.
She agrees and moves to Sunnyville. Almost a year and half later, she’s dating Harry, a local cop, and loves her work as a forensic pathologist. She’s on her way to a court case – and this time, her evidence will prove a guilty innocent. As the courtroom proceedings unfold, she gets to learn a bit about the victim and how his maid killed him. But without proper forensic evidence, the maid gets to walk away.
The issue seems to be with the way in which the victim was buried. The local funeral house used lime instead of embalming fluid – lime destroys all organs and makes the body unfit for medical examination as well as exhumation. But the victim’s family are sure their loved one was murdered. There was a delay in requesting an exhumation as the victim’s will was read two months post their death and that is when the family realized the maid had inherited all of victim’s possessions (farm land, basically).
After the court case and a tiring day at the morgue, Maggie returns home to find Dan Stroud, the victim’s brother, waiting for her at the door. He requests her to look into his brother’s murder – yes, he’s quite sure his brother was killed and it was not death by acute gastritis, as the local physician had initially claimed. Out of curiosity, Maggie agrees to investigate.
She accompanies Dan and his father to the town where Joseph Stroud’s body was prepared for burial and meets with the owner’s wife of the funeral home. Dan had told Maggie previously that he found something fishy about the funeral home.
At 76 pages, Making a Killing by Norah Winter was a short yet completely engrossing historical cozy mystery. I love historical mysteries that features working women – and if the protagonist turns out to be a forensic pathologist or medical examiner, even better. In this story, we get to see how Newton, Maggie’s assistant at the morgue, is quite sensitive about cutting open bodies for post mortem. Maggie finds it amusing that though this is supposedly a man’s job, she’s doing it well. But the job does come with its drawbacks – Maggie has to put in twice the effort that her fellow male colleagues do.
I absolutely loved the writing. I read the novella in less than 30minutes – this says a lot about the storytelling and less about my reading time, mind. The character introduction and development is excellent and the ending is simply fantastic. There is a twist in the latter half of the story – a completely unexpected bit that finally brings the murder investigation to an end – by convicting the killer, of course.
I am looking forward to reading Maggie’s next adventure. It is a full-length novel so extra fun, extra mystery and a whole lot of enjoyable reading experience.
Sounds good. I like the idea of Maggie as a forensic pathologist too.
This is the second series I have read about women in forensic sciences – set in the early 1900s.
Sounds like a fun and fast read!