The Wench is Dead

Colin Dexter, Author
Colin Dexter, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-312-04444-2
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
Fans will not be disappointed in the reappearance of the irascible yet loveable Inspector Morse, the Oxford policeman who investigates the underside of his beautiful city. This time Dexter employs his lucid prose to describe a century-old murder on the meandering Oxford canal, a case chanced upon by Morse in his reading while hospitalized for an ulcer. Inevitably, there will be comparisons with Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time , in which her sleuth simultaneously convalesces and cogitates upon Richard III, accused of the murder of his two nephews. Dexter's tale is the better of the two. The interior narrative, that of a fetching young woman who meets death during a night-shrouded canal voyage, is placed in a contemporary story in which Morse engages in marvelous repartee with his loyal Sergeant Lewis, with a winsome female librarian and with others who aid him in researching the crime. A surprising and inspired solution concludes a jolly good read that juxtaposes past and present Oxford with imagination and finesse. A new series of Inspector Morse mysteries is airing on PBS. 20,000 first printing; Mystery Guild alternate. (Apr.)
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