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This week we turn to the letter I in the A-Z of (vintage mostly) crime fiction and I have selected Inspector Morse, one of the great detective characters.

Inspector Morse was created by Colin Dexter.  The first novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, was printed in 1975 and all told there were 13 novels printed right up until the late 1990’s.

  • Last Bus to Woodstock (1975)
  • Last Seen Wearing (1976)
  • The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (1977)
  • Service of All the Dead (1979)
  • The Dead of Jericho (1981)
  • The Riddle of the Third Mile (1983)
  • The Secret of Annexe 3 (1986)
  • The Wench is Dead (1989)
  • The Jewel That Was Ours (1991)
  • The Way Through the Woods (1992)
  • The Daughters of Cain (1994)
  • Death Is Now My Neighbour (1996)
  • The Remorseful Day (1999)

Colin Dexter’s Morse was a grumpy old Inspector who loved Wagner and crosswords but drove a Lancia.  His side-kick, Lewis, was a heavy drinking Welsh-man.  By the time the iconic tv programme started and John Thor became the great grumpy detective he drove a vintage Jag but only because the tv crew hadn’t been able to find the right car.  Isn’t it funny how what we know about Morse is that he drove a vintage Jag?

Colin Dexter came to writing later in life, starting the life of Inspector Morse over a kitchen table in a holiday home on a rainy day whilst the children complained they were bored.  Dexter wrote all his novels in long hand and had to have them typed up.  His love of the cryptic crosswords definitely played a part in the character he created but also the way he wrote, dropping clues and red herrings.  He said that he always knew the ending of the book but never the start.  I particularly love the quote,

“I always had one idea and that was going to be the terminus ad quem. I knew exactly what was going to happen in the last chapter but certainly not in the middle. There was, like Philip Larkin said, ‘a beginning, a muddle, and an end.’  But I did know where the end was, so that makes me a whodunit man.”

Colin Dexter died in 2017, having killed Morse off in 2000.  The tv shows remain popular today and Inspector Morse is a totally iconic character.