Masonic Mysteries

Ian McDiarmid [ Hugo De Vries ]
Ian McDiarmid
[ Hugo De Vries ]

It is in this episode that Morse is literally driven to distraction when he is viciously harassed by an unknown tormentor. He finds himself set up as the patsy when a woman he has been seeing, Beryl Newsome, is knifed to death during a rehearsal of "The Magic Flute" by a choir group they belong to. Beryl is called away to take a phone call, and the choir's dresser finds that Morse is the only one not wearing his Mason's medallion, and sends him back to find it. This "coincidental" absence of Morse and Beryl places the Chief Inspector over the dead woman's body, holding a large knife that appears to be the murder weapon. Insult is added to injury when the stuffy and bumbling Chief Inspector Bottomley is given charge of the case, and is even loaned the services of Sergeant Lewis. Nevertheless, Morse pursues his own investigation, beginning at the offices of Amnox, the charity organization where Beryl worked. There Morse finds a connection with a criminal, Hugo De Vries, whom he sent away years ago, and who has reportedly died by suicide in a Swedish prison. Years earlier, Marion Brooke, head of Amnox, was the primary victim of an elaborate swindle by De Vries. Lewis's check of computer records at Amnox shows that large sums of money have been disappearing and then reappearing just as suddenly in the company's accounts. Marion claims that Beryl was the only one who knew how to operate the computer system. Bottomley busies himself with police computer files, learning that Morse once beat a woman brutally, which he foolishly reports to Marion during routine questioning. Morse turns to his old supervisor, McNutt, now a vicar, who worked with Morse on the De Vries case. McNutt is called away when a derelict arrives at his door and the Vicar drives him to a shelter. Departing for home, Morse finds his car viciously defaced with engraved Masonic symbols. Later he is reported for drunk driving and is stopped by a motorcycle policeman. His house is broken into and his stereo left on at full volume playing a continuous tape of "The Magic Flute," driving his neighbors to distraction. Several of his personal items are found in Beryl's house, indicating that Morse lied when he said he had never been in the house. More than 99,000 found missing in the Amnox accounts is found deposited in Morse's bank account, and when McNutt's bludgeoned body is discovered by Lewis in Morse's house Bottomley arrests him. Confined to his cell, Morse depends on Lewis to carry on the investigation while he reviews the libretto from "The Magic Flute," which also has Masonic overtones and may contain clues to the mystery. Lewis is able to demonstrate his abilities as a detective as well as his loyalty to Morse when he pieces together evidence showing that his boss is being framed through planted evidence, including manipulated police computer files, which drives Chief Superintendent Strange into a frenzied panic and forces Bottomley to release Morse, admitting that the computer files containing evidence against him were fraudulent, and the knife found near Beryl's body was not the murder weapon after all. Lewis realizes that whoever has manipulated the computer records could manipulate other computer files that contain key information about suspects in the case. Morse's personal crisis reaches a dangerous peak when he is nearly killed in a fire deliberately set at his home. Reviewing the events of the evening Beryl was killed, Morse focuses on the mysterious dresser who instructed him to find his missing Masonic medallion and who is now missing himself. When Morse learns that the Swedish prison records have also been altered, that De Vries is still alive, and that Marion is missing, he figures out who his tormentor is and why Beryl was killed. The story gives viewers a rare opportunity to see Morse in an unusually vulnerable light and he becomes an object of genuine sympathy as a victim of gross injustice. It also provides an equally rare glimpse of the bond between Morse and Lewis and how heavily the Chief Inspector depends on his sergeant. - reviewed by Allen Wiener

[From Inspector Morse TV-series]