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The Daughters of Cain: An Inspector Morse Mystery    by Colin Dexter order for
Daughters of Cain
by Colin Dexter
Order:  USA  Can
Ivy, 1996
Hardcover, Paperback
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

I had forgotten what an erudite writer Colin Dexter is. I always learn from reading his books - little tidbits that enrich my life. He also produces wonderful and complex mysteries. I came across an older gem of Dexter's, The Daughters of Cain. As with all of the author's many books, this one should not be missed. Each of three women is suspected of having murdered the husband of one of the women. Said husband himself is guilty of having committed murder. Dexter builds the suspense with cleverly planted clues. You aren't sure until the last page who did the dastardly deed. But you find that you care.

The characters - Chief Inspector Morse, the beleaguered Sergeant Lewis, Superintendent Strange - are old friends of any reader of Dexter's books. Add the suspects and various and sundry other intriguing players and the plot begins, thickens, and races to a not altogether satisfying conclusion. With Morse, Dexter has created a flawed and bedeviled man who physically suffers from his own indulgences. A man who loves classical music, poetry, and Greek and Latin writers, as much as he loves his pints of lager and cigarettes. He denies himself none of these things, even when Lewis has to dig into his own pocket to pay the bill.

Knives, a bicycle, a prostitute, faded wallpaper and rugs, a ring of keys - all these weave through The Daughters of Cain as Morse and Lewis labor to solve the crimes. Frustration mounts as Morse realizes he knows the answers somewhere deep in his subconscious and can't force them to the surface of his fascinating brain. Morse begins to feel an alien warmth towards one of the suspects - one he finds difficult to handle as this particular emotion is not in his lexicon.

Whether you read The Daughters of Cain or any of Dexter's many other books in the Inspector Morse series, you can be sure to curl up with a character you will not forget when you have read the last word.

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