Chief Inspector Morse's eleventh outing finds the brilliant, if unconventional, detective ailing, out of shape, and thinking about retirement and his own mortality. He'd be in a lot better health at this point if he'd only give up cigarettes and cut back on the amount of alcohol that he consumes. But of course, that's a lot easier said than done, and any long-time reader of this series knows that it's not going to happen.
As the book opens, Morse inherits a murder investigation from a colleague who claims that he needs to attend to his sickly wife. Morse assumes that the colleague is simply trying to duck out of a complicated case that he's been unable to solve, but he's happy to assume the responsibility nonetheless.
The victim was a retired academic named Felix McClure. By all accounts, McClure was reasonably well liked and no one would have had a motive to stab him to death. Morse and his sidekick, Sergeant Lewis, begin their inquiries at the college from which the victim had recently retired. There they discover that some untoward activities had been taking place at the college and that, in fact, there might have been someone, or perhaps several someones, who wanted the good professor dead.
The case is further complicated when another murder occurs, and mixed up in all of this are three women, two of whom Morse will find very attractive. As is always the case in a novel by Colin Dexter, it's a complex puzzle and the reader can only be thankful that someone with the ability of Chief Inspector Morse is around to put all the pieces into place. Another good entry in a very engaging series.