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The Daughters of Cain
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New or Used: 2 copies from $10.50
New or Used: 2 copies from $10.50

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The Inspector Morse of A&E and PBS's Mystery fame is clever, urbane and a fairly mild curmudgeon. The Morse of Dexter's novels is far pricklier, offering sharper, more morbid pleasures. In this 11th appearance, after The Way Through the Woods, the Inspector is aging badly: beers and cigarettes have taken a toll on his health, and he's harsher than usual with his assistant, Lewis, who himself is less forgiving on the page than in his dogged, loyal TV incarnation. Here, a retired don is murdered; then a former college custodian goes missing. The don frequented a prostitute who is the estranged stepdaughter of the custodian. The custodian, abusive to his wife and despised by his stepdaughter, was fired from the college for drug dealing. Morse is determined to tie the murder with the disappearance, but the chronology proves frustratingly elastic. Operating on the edge of the narrative is a terminally ill schoolteacher and her yob of a favorite pupil. As usual, Morse is both fearful and fascinated in his encounters with the fair sex, be they killers or suspects or witnesses; the hooker manages to crack open his fragile libido in a matter of moments. Dexter is fiendishly adept at the literary aside; even if his narrative style is sometimes mannered, he is a masterful crime writer whom few others match. Author tour. (Apr.)

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