Dexter's love of labyrinthine plots over-reaches--by a lot--in this new case for dour Inspector Morse of Oxfordshixe (The Dead of Jericho, etc.). First comes a flashback to El Alamein: the three Gilbert brothers are in the heat of battle, one of them dies there, and one brother--Albert Gilbert--has reason to carry the vengeful memory of a young lieutenant named Browne-Smith. Then it's 40 years later, and a Dr. Browne-Smith of Oxford U. has disappeared; meanwhile, a headless, handless corpse has surfaced in Morse's territory. Are all these events linked? Of course. But it isn't until three more dead bodies have popped up that the mystery-corpse is finally identified. And meanwhile there have been excursions to the pome back-rooms of Soho, a seineful of red herrings, and an uncompelling handful of motives (some actual, some mistaken). Complete with Morse's moody, mostly fruitless introspection: a near-parody of the convoluted/downbeat new-style British mystery--from an uneven talent whose skillful prose goes mostly to waste this time.