Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Introducing Chief Inspector Morse

This is the book that introduced Colin Dexter's famous protagonist, Chief Inspector Morse of the Oxford Homicide Division. Morse is a confirmed bachelor who is attracted to women, liquor and complex homicide investigations. Here we also meet the man who would be Morse's sidekick throughout the series, the much put-upon Sergeant Lewis.

As the book opens, two attractive young women are waiting for a bus. One of them, Sylvia Kaye, grows impatient and decides to hitch a ride instead. She is later discovered murdered in the parking lot of a pub in Woodstock. Morse is assigned to the case and his first challenge is to find the young woman who was waiting for the bus with the victim. The woman turns out to be particularly elusive and when Morse narrows down the list to the woman he KNOWS must be Sylvia's friend, the young woman steadfastly insists that Morse is wrong. Why won't she own up to the obvious truth?

Other obstacles block Morse's investigation and along the way, he will become enamored with one of the women central to the case. He will be forced to discard one theory after another until it seems possible that there will never be a solution to the case, but Morse will never be one to give up.

This is a solid introduction to the series and the characters of Morse and Lewis, once established here, will remain virtually constant through the remainder of the series. Many Americans first met Morse when this series was adapted for television and exported to the U.S. and those who enjoy British crime fiction are almost certainly guaranteed to like this book and the rest that follow. 

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