Daughters Of Cain


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During the narrative too, there is a cascade of cultural references. One difference immediately apparent to a regular reader of the series, is that Morse and Lewis are present for almost the entire novel, rather than entering the action halfway through. In addition, Morse himself reveals a more vulnerable side. It is very unusual in these novels to read a sentence which says, "Morse suddenly felt very moved; very lost, very helpless, very upset.

For those who like the current taste for becoming immersed in the back story of their favourite detectives, this may prove fascinating. It is certainly a change from the hints and teasing snippets about Morse's life, which we have had so far.

We already know he is very intelligent, and relishes classical music, drinking, smoking, and women - and not necessarily in that order. We know of his other interests: English literature, History, the Classics, Opera, and of course, crosswords. Yet we have only had hints about his past and his childhood; about the events which have formed his attitudes and made him the man he is.

Here we learn, ""I've always been frightened of the dark myself", admitted Morse". In an earlier novel we had a detailed account of an earlier failed love affair, one which damaged and hurt him badly. Yet some of the basic information is intriguingly missing. We still do not know Morse's first name, even by the end of this eleventh novel, although we have now been given the initial letter - "E". And, "Morse knew all about being teased because of a name - in his own case a Christian name.

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The Daughters of Cain

In the light of the television adaptations - and now even the prequels - his Christian name is well-known. Yet at the time of publishing even this late novel, the readers were still kept in suspense. Would Colin Dexter ever actually reveal Morse's first name? The author kept it under his hat. There is also a shift - some might call it a development - in the relationship between the two main characters. Part of their appeal has always been their contrast. The intellectual maverick Morse, is partnered with the dedicated, dutiful, hard-working sidekick Lewis.

Until now, there has always been a hint of adulation in Lewis's attitude towards Morse. Yes, he has shown shock at Morse's coarseness in previous novels, but still the reader has felt overall that he has a sense of pride on being relied on by such an inspired Chief Inspector. Here though, we see through Lewis's eyes, "the supercilious, almost arrogant, cast of the harsh blue eyes, and the complacent-looking smile about the lips.

It was the sort of conceit which Lewis found the least endearing quality of his chief; worse even than his meanness with money and his almost total lack of gratitude. And suddenly he felt a shudder of distaste. Only one thing, I suppose. I shall miss you, old friend, that's all. There is no real mystery about who the murderer is - it is not a "whodunnit" in any sense, because Morse atypically sticks to his first correct thought, and it is merely a question of why and how, and finding the evidence to support it.

Specifically then, the body of Dr. It is a brutal murder, and Morse is extremely averse to viewing the body, which has a single stab to the stomach with a broad knife. Morse's regular squeamishness is compounded by the fact that he is not in good health.

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There is a lot of detail about Morse's health in this novel. He describes it himself thus, "My liver and kidneys are disintegrating, my blood pressure isn't quite off the top of the scale, I'm nursing another stomach ulcer I'm on the verge of diabetes [due to] my occasional intake of alcohol He sways to and fro with his resolve, "For three whole days now he had not smoked a single cigarette, and had arrived at that crucial point where his self-mastery had already been demonstrated.

At one point Lewis expostulates in exasperation, "If you're determined to dig yourself an early grave The sense he has of possible impending doom is very noticeable, despite his attempts to shrug it off with comments such as, "A small celebratory libation that, Lewis - in gratitude to whatever gods there be that temporarily I have survived the perils and dangers of this mortal life. We follow the back story relating to him and his wife, Brenda, who works as a cleaner for Julia Smith, a teacher. Edward Brooks had worked as a scout on one particular staircase where Felix McClure had rooms, and we follow the stories behind the students and ex-students who lived there, one of whom had formerly committed suicide by jumping from a window.

All these facts are known very early on in the novel, but of course a novel by Colin Dexter would not be complete without a prostitute or two. The female characters are all described in terms of their attractiveness to Morse, or vice-versa, his to them. And as usual at this point, the author and Morse seems to fuse into one persona. It seems uncanny that such an irascible, curmudgeonly character, who has all the physical attributes of a heavy smoker and drinker, is still apparently extremely desirable to almost every woman he meets Morse appears to embody every male's fantasy.

Indeed women quite regularly fall at his feet.

The daughters of Cain | Alicia Serrano García

The readers have become used to Morse's habit of becoming romantically or even carnally involved with at least one of the females in the case he is investigating, but in The Daughters of Cain he does actually fall in love. Towards the end, the description of this is quite sensitive. Morse even receives a letter containing a declaration of love, which only increases his despair and feelings of emotional impotence.

The author has made a fair attempt with this novel, both to show Morse's sadness at his loneliness; his growing awareness that he is mortal, and his despair and utter desolation at the knowledge that he will never achieve the sort of contentment that Lewis has with his wife and home. We are used to Morse being abrupt and pedantic. His scholar's brain cannot deal with the overwhelming feelings he is having, to which he is not accustomed. It seems so extremely poignant, that in the end the only way he can cope, is to put himself in familiar territory, by saying to Lewis, "I shall have to tell her that "rang" is the more correct form of the past tense of the verb "to ring" when used transitively.


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However as with all Dexter's novels, the clues come and go in a flash and can easily be missed if not read carefully, and with insight. It is gritty, with drugs, incest and bribery all playing a part.


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  7. Inspector Morse 11 The Daughters of Cain!
  8. There is a secondary murder, which is dealt with more thoroughly than the first, and to which the title holds the clue. This too is a new twist for Colin Dexter, because with this second murder the reader not only has the knowledge of who did it, described in a very detailed way, but is rooting for the killer to get away with it, because the "victim" is such an evil character. This part of the plot is quite gripping, revolving around three women who are connected to each other through their loathing of one man. For Morse aficionados there are plenty of instances to show Dexter's masterful prose.

    Sons & Daughters of Lilith and Cain

    These novels never have been standard detective novels. Some readers take exception to the character being prone to throwing in erudite or even esoteric little asides, finding it extremely irritating and more a reflection of Colin Dexter's self-absorbed style, than of the character of Morse. They may take exception to Dexter's reference to the fact that Lewis's wife continually speaks in anapaestic pentameters, and anapaestic hexameters, even though ostensibly it is Morse who is noticing this.

    It has to be said that the erudition, so often deliciously witty in these novels, does seem a little forced in this one. Here's an example, "He regularly inserted it, in its present-participial form, into any lengthy-ish word which seemed to invite some internal profanation. Such a process is known, in the Homeric epics, as "tmesis". Perhaps it does.

    Then how about this, "the cerebral equivalent of such a process Or perhaps a little too verbose even for Morse, and ever-so-slightly clumsy? Or is it "pretentiously polysyllabic"? It takes one to know one, Mr Dexter. In conclusion then, this is not a stand-alone novel, and certainly not a "way in" to the series.

    The story line is interesting, and there is a certain amount of suspense with some good twists near the end of the novel. There are several subplots - and one loose end that the author intentionally leaves out from the summing-up, or leaves to our imagination - as often with these novels. He leaves the reader wondering. The settings he uses within Oxford are authentic, as is the University daily life and traditions. Overall though, it is not as fiendishly complex as previous Morse novels. And does his romance come to anything? Well that would be telling.

    The Daughters of Cain - Wikipedia

    It would be as well to be conversant with the main characters of Morse and Lewis first. If you already a pushover for the irascible rogue Morse, with his, "not uncommon, strangely distanced, almost mystical look in the gentian-blue eyes" then you will probably enjoy this novel. But Morse's health seems to cast a shadow over everything, and his demise is telegraphed to the extent of distracting the reader from the main story.

    Such strong foreshadowing, feels almost as if Dexter wanted to make absolutely sure that nobody came back, to say they want more Morse novels. And it does have the effect of making this reader wonder what the final two will be like. View all 13 comments. Apr 21, Bruce Beckham rated it it was ok. Naturally, the Morse-Lewis exchanges were like eavesdropping upon two old friends, at once amusing and exasperating — but of course interpretation of their dialogue is so heavily informed by familiarity with the on-screen characters. Indeed, the explanation for my discontent lies, I suspect, in the timing — The Daughters of Cain was published 7 years after the TV series began.

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