Cover image for The wench is dead
The wench is dead
Dexter, Colin.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [1989]

Physical Description:
200 pages, 1 unnumbered leaf of plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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It is only to entertain himself in the hospital that the impatient Inspector Morse opens the little book called Murder on the Oxford Canal. But so fascinating is the story it tells--of the notorious 1859 murder of Joanna Franks aboard the canal boat Barbara Bray--that not even Morse's attractive nurses can distract him from it. Was Joanna really raped and murdered by fellow passengers? Morse believes the men hanged for the crime were innocent. Now, in one of the most dazzling investigations of his career, Morse sets out to piece together the shattered past, hoping to expose the shocking truth about the Barbara Bray--and a beautiful wench who is journeying towards her death.

Author Notes

Norman Colin Dexter was born in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England on September 29, 1930. He received a bachelor's degree in classics in 1953 and a master's degree in 1958 at from Christ's College, Cambridge University. He taught classics for many years, but growing deafness forced him to retire in 1966. For the next two decades, he was the senior assistant secretary at the Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations. He retired in 1988 to become a full-time writer.

He was best known for creating the character Chief Inspector Morse. The Inspector Morse series began in 1975 with Last Bus to Woodstock and ended in 1999 with The Remorseful Day. The books were adapted into the television series Inspector Morse, which ran from 1987 to 2000. Dexter won the British Crime Writers' Gold Dagger Award for The Wench is Dead in 1989 and again in 1992 for The Way Through the Woods. He received the organization's lifetime achievement award, the Diamond Dagger, in 1997. He also wrote Cracking Cryptic Crosswords: A Guide to Solving Cryptic Crosswords in 2010. He died on March 21, 2017 at the age of 86.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved