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n Oxford, 1965, Endeavour Morse is a teetotaler and a classical music loving young constable who considers leaving the force after an unhappy affair but stays to join Inspector Thursday's investigation into the disappearance of schoolgirl Mary Tremlett. By deciphering a code based on crosswords in the local paper and Mary's poetry books, Morse deduces that Mary was meeting a lover and leads Thursday to the site of her murder. Following the suicide of Mary's boyfriend, student Miles Percival, Morse meets Miles' tutor, Dr. Stromming, the crossword setter who was seeing Mary but had an alibi for the murder. DS Lott, jealous of Thursday's regard for Morse's sharpness, attempts to incriminate Miles but then the police learn that Mary and other girls were paid to attend orgies by creepy car dealer Teddy Samuels, who has Lott in his pocket, as well as other worthies. As a result, both Thursday (a great mentor who also introduces the young constable to real ale) and Morse are carpeted. Morse considers leaving Oxford; however, his job and future are secure after he works out the code Mary had written on her hand, ultimately leading to his cracking the case.

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