Inspector Lewis Series II: And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea

Dr. Stringer, a specialist in the Romantic poets, senses an intruder on his property and calls the police. Lewis and Hathaway arrive and find nothing — other than a typically arrogant Oxford scholar and some rare books. Later, a maintenance worker is found dead in the famous Bodleian Library, the first murder there in 500 years. The deceased had a formidable gambling habit and was keeping some rare books stolen from the Bodleian.

Later, Nell Buckley, a brilliantly creative Fine Arts student, is found murdered, and the most significant clue is a handwritten piece of Shelley's poetry in her pocket. Philip Horton, an obsessive painter with a photographic memory, is the main suspect. But was this gentle genius capable of murder, and what are the strange literary links that seem to thread the cases together?

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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers

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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers

Lewis and Hathaway are at Dr. Hobson's birthday party: Lewis is bored and Hathaway is quietly drunk. Police arrive at a nearby house and Lewis and Hathaway use this as a handy excuse to leave the party. The house belongs to Dr. Stringer, a specialist in the Romantic poets, including the works of Shelley. Dr Stringer believes an intruder came onto his property, but doesn't have much to steal other than rare books.

Later, the library maintenance engineer, Chapman, is found shot in the head in the basement of the Bodleian Library. Hathaway finds nineteenth-century books at Chapman's house — strange in that the Bodleian isn't a library with lending privileges. Adding to the intrigue, Chapman had a formidable gambling habit, and was a member of the local gambling support group. Is it a coincidence that math professor Sandra Walters, deeply involved in the gambling support group, is also a close friend of Dr. Stringer?

The brilliantly creative art student, Nell Buckley, is then murdered and the only clue the police have is a handwritten piece of Shelley poetry in her back pocket. A gun is later found in the drawer of her roommate and close friend, Philip Horton, and he becomes the main suspect. Philip has a photographic memory and draws and paints obsessively. Jameson, Nell's other roommate, works at the sports betting agency where Chapman placed his last bet and is tutored by Walters.

The net closes in as forged Shelley manuscripts are found in the library and Dr. Stringer is found out as Chapman's gambling support buddy. Lewis and Hathaway work out that Stringer and Walters were running a scam, getting Philip with Nell's help to forge Shelley manuscripts that would be sold on the American market. Chapman provided the authentic paper from the nineteenth century books and passed them though Jameson at the sports betting agency.

What Stringer didn't take into account was Chapman's hunger for money, so Stringer killed him. Nell came up with the genius idea for forging fake letters from Shelley to Mary Shelley saying it was his idea for Frankenstein. (Nell's intentions were purely artistic, not criminal.) Stringer and Walters saw there was huge amounts of money to be made, but didn't realize Nell would be filming Stringer as he authenticated these forged letters. Nell was going to show this film as part of a film project and Stringer's reputation would have been ruined, so he killed her.

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