Morse is taken seriously ill at a museum reception and is hospitalized. While there, he takes an interest in a 140 year-old case known as the Oxford Canal Murders. The case involved the murder and rape of young woman traveling by canal boat from Coventry to London. The case resulted in two men being hanged and Morse believes there was a miscarriage of justice. With Lewis away at the Inspectors course Supt. Strange, who has counseled Morse to take early retirement, assigns fast-track university graduate PC Adrian Kershaw to do some leg work for him. Morse determines that a fraud took place and that the victim may have been someone else altogether. Written by
The Wench is Dead is very well done, but fans of the show will notice that Lewis is missing. (he is on an inspector's course) Matthew Finney does give a very appealing performance as Kershaw, but he doesn't quite have the earnestness that Whately brought to Lewis. Though the episode is fully redeemed by a brilliant performance from John Thaw,(Morse spends most of the episode in hospital) lovely camera-work and a well written script. The episode is probably the most faithful of all the episodes to the book, all with the exception of the omission of Lewis, about Morse trying to solve a 150 year old murder case from his hospital bed. The Victorian scenes were certainly beautifully shot, and well realised. Overall, a solid episode even with the absence of Lewis. 9/10 Bethany Cox.
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