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"Set apart from the rest of their kind by..the mark of Cain",
This review is from: The Daughters of Cain (Inspector Morse Mysteries) (Mass Market Paperback)
In one of the best of the Inspector Morse series, author Colin Dexter juggles several intricate plot lines, keeping the reader totally absorbed in each subplot and, especially, in the lives of the characters before he deftly brings them all together in a satisfying ending. Assigned to take over the investigation of the stabbing death of Oxford professor Felix McClure in his campus quarters, Inspector Morse learns that a student neighbor of McClure committed suicide--and was a drug user. Morse, assisted by Sgt. Lewis, his less articulate but clever assistant, begins the murder investigation by exploring whether McClure may have discovered the drug supplier.
At the same time, other plot threads are unfolding: Mrs. Julia Stevens, a well-liked high school teacher of "reluctant learners," celebrates her birthday with a cake made by her housekeeper, a severely abused wife. Ted Brooks, formerly a "scout" (custodian) at McClure's Oxford housing and now a museum guard/guide, has recovered from the heart attack he suffered the night McClure was murdered and has an airtight alibi. Elly Smith, who uses the professional name of "Kay" or "K," a young prostitute, is connected to at least five of the characters (and unites the plot lines). When Ted Brooks is found stabbed to death, and further investigation turns up numerous connections among the various characters, the mystery is off and running. As is always the case in this series, a new woman figures in Morse's life.
Dexter excels here in creating female characters with whom the reader identifies, and as the lives of these women unfold, their attempts to overcome the hardships life has dealt them elicit sympathy and understanding, not only in the reader but in Inspector Morse, too. The mystery is fast paced and filled with unexpected twists and turns, but as it develops and moves to its conclusion, it is the female characters who generate the movement and keep the reader's interest. The satisfying conclusion is surprising, since it does not tie up all loose ends, leaving some uncertainties which are, themselves, highly satisfying. Mary Whipple