The Wench Is Dead by Colin Dexter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s to my great shame that, despite being a fan of the original TV series from the very beginning, I have never read one of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse books until now. This one involves an historical crime set in the 1850s! And on a canal, no less! In my younger days as a teacher I was responsible for organizing a yearly residential for my students, which was often held on narrowboats out of Braunston Junction, one of the places the victim passed through on the way to her death.
Morse enjoys puzzles and so do I. We very similar in a number of respects. And the historical puzzle being offered here feels especially real, presented as it is in a variety of original and secondary sources. Fascinating stuff. Did I solve the puzzle? Yup. And just about as quickly as Morse solves one of his crosswords. I won’t say what gave it away, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Did I solve the cryptic crossword clue (six letters: “Bradman’s famous duck”)? I certainly wouldn’t have without Morse’s prompting. Quixote (its setter), one; me, nil, then. Oh, well. Can’t win them all.
As for the present-day Morse part of the novel, our detective is confined to hospital and fantasizes about dating the nurses, not that many of them would reciprocate his wistful yearnings. His downtrodden Sergeant Lewis is dismissed out-of-hand and taken for granted—at least until his words of wisdom surface in Morse’s distracted mind.
Would I read another Morse? I certainly would! But that’s just my own humble opinion…what do you think? Do let me know!
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