Out on 30 May 2024

The Wench is Dead

Colin Dexter

1989 Winner

CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger

30 May 2024
256 pages


Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger award, The Wench is Dead is the eighth novel in Colin Dexter's Oxford-set detective series. As portrayed by John Thaw in ITV's Inspector Morse.

That night he dreamed in Technicolor. He saw the ochre-skinned, scantily clad siren in her black, arrowed stockings. And in Morse's muddled computer of a mind, that siren took the name of one Joanna Franks . . .

Early in the morning of the 22nd of June, 1859, the body of Joanna Franks was found floating at Duke’s Cut along the Oxford Canal – an event which led to the trial and hanging of two suspected murderers.

A hundred and thirty years later Chief Inspector Morse is bedbound and recovering from a perforated ulcer at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital when he is handed an old book to read, one that recounts the trial of a murder aboard the Barbara Bray canal boat: the murder of Joanna Franks. Investigating the account of the trial, Morse begins to question whether the two men hanged were truly guilty and sets out to prove his suspicions from the confines of his hospital bed . . .

The Wench is Dead is followed by the ninth Inspector Morse book, The Jewel That Was Ours.

Traditional crime writing at its best; the kind of book without which no armchair is complete
No one constructs a whodunit with more fiendish skill than Colin Dexter
Dexter has created a giant among fictional detectives