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The Wench Is Dead (Inspector Morse, #8)
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The Wench Is Dead (Inspector Morse #8)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,698 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
The body of Joanna Franks was found at Duke's Cut on the Oxford Canal on 22nd June 1859. As Inspector Morse is recovering from a perforated ulcer he discovers an account of the 140-year-old investigation and is convinced that two innocent men were hanged.
Audio CD, Abridged, 3 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by MacMillan Audio (first published 1989)
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James Thane
This is among my favorites of the books in Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse series, mainly because the conceit is so clever. In the other Morse novels, as is the case with virtually all police procedurals, a crime is committed--usually a murder--and then Morse appears on the scene, begins an investigation and hopefully brings the guilty party to justice.

In this case, though, Morse is laid up in the hospital with a perforated ulcer and is confined to bed for a couple of weeks. While lying there, he
The Wench is Dead is the eighth novel in Colin Dexter's "Inspector Morse" series. It is one of the most intriguing so far, as it is a story within a story. The mystery itself is based on a true unsolved crime which had been researched by Dexter. In part then, it is an historical novel. The novel received the British Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award, for the best Crime novel of the year, in 1989.

The phrase "The Wench is Dead" is often quoted, but originally was a quotation from Christ
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laid up in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Inspector Morse comes across an account of a 19th century murder. Intrigued by the inaccuracies in the account, he decides to solve the murder from his hospital bed. With the help of his faithful Sergeant Lewis and an attractive librarian visiting her poorly father, Morse soon becomes engrossed in the case of a young woman, apparently murdered by boatmen during her canal journey from Oxford to London.

It takes a crime writer of considerable skill and chutzp
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins with poor Morse in the hospital suffering from a bleeding ulcer and enlarged liver, the result of all those pints. It's so different from the usual Morse in command; now he's forced to undergo the indignities of the hospital and completely at the mercy of others. He is given a copy of a book detailing the results of the murder of Joanna Franks who had been raped and murdered in 1859. The perpetrators had been arrested and hung. With nothing better to do, Morse reads the book but ...more
The best Inspector Morse novel that I have read so far (from the first eight books in this series). Brilliant plotting, very cleverly crafted! Morse re-solves a crime from the mid-19th century. Recommended for anyone who loves this genre.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Both Morse and I are poorly: me in bed getting over a cold; himself in the JR2 with a perforated ulcer. And both of us given reading to do: me the book; himself a short pamphlet from the recently widowed wife of a patient. And both of us working out how Joanna Franks was murdered back in the 1800s.
This is a goodie, like solving a cryptic crossword. And the solution, coming on the heels of patient research, several lucky finds (including a carpet on sawdust in Ireland, and some height marks in a
Paul Secor
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread over the past two days, as I wanted something to take my mind off what's gone on.
The conceit here is that Morse is in the hospital being treated for a bleeding ulcer. While there, an elderly woman whose husband has just died of a heart attack, gives him a copy of a short book her husband wrote concerning the death of a woman in 1859 and the subsequent hanging of two men who were charged with her murder. Morse becomes interested in the case from what he reads and proceeds to investigate, m
Feb 14, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read a few mysteries, since so many people love them, but realized I don't. This flaccid little book felt like such a waste of time--especially the odd way that the book's attractive women kept falling for the aging, alcoholic Morse. Really?
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having already read the preceding Morse novels, I was pleased by this book's combination of the irascible, self-absorbed but sympathetic Morse and the historical mystery at its centre. I somehow had two copies, one of which I gave to my sister; she, a very avid reader but not acquainted with Dexter's works, did not particularly enjoy the book but liked Morse's character. Therefore I would not recommend this as the first foray into the world of Chief Inspector Morse (nothing wrong with starting f ...more
Josephine Tey did it in Daughter of Time. Now Dexter does it in this book--puts his detective, in this case Inspector Morse, in the hospital and gives him an historical mystery to rethink. Morse has a perforated ulcer, and a yen for some of the nurses, when he's given a book that describes a Victorian murder. The perpetrators were convicted and hanged, but something seems off about the whole case to Morse, who manages to investigate while he's in the hospital, and follows up on the case--to no e ...more
I like the Morse books, but Josephine Tey did the detective in the hospital story much, much better. The underlying historical mystery was just not interesting.
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
Considering this is one of (if not the) shortest Morse book I don't really understand why it took me so long to read it.

I guess its difficult to tell a story when the central character is in the hospital (a victim of his unhealthy lifestyle). But this serves to remind Morse of his own mortality. Fast approaching 60 and retirement, his head turned by a pretty face (several of which appear in this book, be they nurse or daughter of another patient).

Morse's interest is spiked by a book, given to hi
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read this years ago, something in another tale made me return to it. I could not remember exactly what had actually happened in the long ago crime, but the sickbed investigation was quite similar. But this, for pleasure reading alone and for Morse identity itself in spades, was a favorite.

It's short and takes another approach completely from the usual detecting methods. And the physical illness and bed-ridden abilities still bloom in full flower to answers.

Colin Dexter unraveling layers s
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
I was a little disappointed in this one. There was very little mystery to it, the salient points seemed to be pretty obvious. The book seemed more a testament to Morse's aging libido than anything else. I understand this book is a little atypical of most Morse novels, so I'll give him another try, but this one did not impress me.
Karen Wickham
This is an unusual Inspector Morse story because he is investigating a murder which happened in 1860 as a diversion whilst in hospital.

I found some of the conclusions he came to rather flimsy based on the evidence available. The story was mildly interesting but not one of his best.
Dec 19, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writer is too cute by half. A disappointment.
The Books Blender

Questa recensione è presente anche sul blog:

Morse ha qualche problemino con l'alcol. Ok, forse qualcosina in più dal momento che un bel giorno si ritrova l’ulcera perforata.

Così, in ospedale, con la compagnia di pazienti che si confrontano sulle reciproche malattie, tra avvenenti infermierine attratte da uomini più anziani (di cui Morse pare essere un degno rappresentate agli occhi delle fanciulle) e terrificanti caposala scorbutiche, libri porno di contr
Jim B
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, mystery
Happy accident! I found this Inspector Morse mystery in my library. I owned it, and don't know how that happened. I've loved the other Morse mysteries I've read, The Jewel that Was Ours and The Daughters of Cain which I experienced as audiobooks -- but Colin Dexter's writing is so subtle and intelligent that it bears reading and rereading, because the detective himself is paying attention to whether a word is spelled with a "t" or a double "t" and what that means!

As summaries invariably reve
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A re-read in honour of the passing of Colin Dexter and one of the most original crime novels in recentish years. Laid up with a suspected ulcer, Morse is handed a privately published account of a murder apparently committed on the Oxford Canal in middle years of the C19th and sets out to solve the case. Extremely different from the televised version in which Morse is deprived of the dependable Sgt Lewis and given a young academic constable (and girlfriend), Morse here relies (as usual) on Lewis ...more
Dane Cobain
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m probably a little predisposed towards Colin Dexter, because I’ve read all of the Sherlock Holmes books and most of Agatha Christie’s back catalogue, and so this is the natural next step. The Wench is Dead is a little different to most of the other books, in that Morse is an invalid throughout. He got hospitalised for being a middle-aged pisshead.

Anyway, the actual mystery involved here begins to develop when Morse begins to read one of his fellow patients’ write-up of a century-old murder ca
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He is hardly the model of good health, what with his incorrigible smoking and drinking, but a bleeding ulcer proves too much for Chief Inspector Morse. With some reluctance, he is taken to hospital, earning himself the sympathy of those around him, as well as some small gifts.

Among aforementioned small gifts is a small self-published volume on a murder which happened in the Oxford Canal about a hundred years before Morse's time. Although put off, at first, by the dense writing style, Morse soon
Stephanie Graham Pina
Jul 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was a reread for me and I had forgotten how much I loved this Morse mystery. It has echoes of The Daughter of Time which makes me wonder of this is Colin Dexter's homage to Josephine Tey. Morse is recuperating from illness through much of the book, so some readers may be turned off by the lack of action. I loved it, though. Morse is at his most cerebral when he is occupied with this case, yet he is also at his most vulnerable since he is ill and at the mercy of assorted health professionals ...more
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ostlers
Convalescing in the hospital, Morse puts down his pornographic novel The Blue Ticket and begins to read Murder on the Oxford Canal, a brief privately published history of a century-old crime that his just-deceased roommate's widow has brought him. He becomes increasingly absorbed in the story and the flaws in the case; two men, workers on a canal boat, were hanged for the murder of a drowned woman whom they had been ferrying down the canal. Morse feels an injustice may have been done. Once relea ...more
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: krimi
Even though I barely remember it, I'm pretty sure I had watched some of the TV versions of Morse. Anyway, I recently ran into this again via a BBC4extra audio, where they turned the book into an audio, which I loved a lot.

Buying the book was a good choice, for one, Colin Dexter's English is a different style than I'm used to. Might be due to historical reasons, as the author grew up in a different time than me and thus his vocabulary does contain a few words I'm not used to hearing - no clue.

Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-thrillers
I first read this in the early 1990s shortly after its publication and at a time when I was working my way through all the Morse novels. It's just as I remember it - clever, inventive, and thoroughly entertaining. And the relationship between Morse and Lewis is wonderful, a modern day Holmes and Watson. And the lovely thing was that as I read it, I remembered John Thaw and Kevin Whateley (still the best TV duo) with great affection.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diverso dai precedenti Ispettore Morse ma non meno bello e godibile. Il mistero si è svolto nel passato, ma non per questo Morse demorde, deve mettere tutti i pezzi del puzzle al loro posto altrimenti non è soddisfatto e l'inquietudine lo tortura. Non vedo l'ora di leggere il prossimo, corro in biblioteca! :)
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, british
Quite similar in concept to Tey's Daughter of Time. I found this entry in the Morse series very enjoyable, and without the confusing convolutions of the past few books.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
One of the less interesting television episode's of Morse but a surprisingly enjoyable read. No time pressure and no worry about another character becoming a victim, since this is a case from the past. But you get to spend more time in Morse's head and experience his thought process. That was great. Interesting to put him in such a vulnerable state too. A good read.
Frances L
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an Inspector Morse mystery. Morse is laid up in bed and to while away the time he attemps to solve a long ago murder. He does solve it and how he does makes for a good read. Colin Dexter is at his best.
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Norman Colin Dexter was an English crime writer, known for his Inspector Morse novels.

He started writing mysteries in 1972 during a family holiday: "We were in a little guest house halfway between Caernarfon and Pwllheli. It was a Saturday and it was raining - it's not unknown for it to rain in North Wales. The children were moaning ... I was sitting at the kitchen table with nothing else to do, a
More about Colin Dexter...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Morse (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Last Bus to Woodstock (Inspector Morse, #1)
  • Last Seen Wearing (Inspector Morse, #2)
  • The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (Inspector Morse, #3)
  • Service of All the Dead (Inspector Morse, #4)
  • The Dead of Jericho (Inspector Morse, #5)
  • The Riddle of the Third Mile (Inspector Morse, #6)
  • The Secret of Annexe 3 (Inspector Morse, #7)
  • The Jewel That Was Ours (Inspector Morse, #9)
  • The Way Through The Woods (Inspector Morse, #10)
  • Morse's Greatest Mystery and Other Stories

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“He was somewhat of a loner by temperament--because though never wholly happy when alone, he was usually slightly more miserable when with other people.” 34 likes
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