Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Dead Of Jericho - Colin Dexter

 'The triumph is the character of Morse'

From the back cover of the novel.

 In my last Colin Dexter review, well it was more of an appraisal than a review, I pretty much summed up all I had to say on the Morse novels in general. Or did I? After finishing The Dead of Jericho early this morning I now find myself in the position of being able to add some more. After my last review, er, appraisal, I didn't think I'd bother with reviewing, oops, appraising the next two Morse novels I was to read.

Again I find myself unable to quite separate the novel from the TV series. The interesting thing here is the very first episode was based on this very novel. It first aired in the UK in January of 1987, six years after the novel was published. It wasn't the first Morse novel Dexter wrote ( Last Bus to Woodstock has that distinction, being written in 1975 ),  and I have no idea why this was selected first for adaptation. I note too that some of the names in the episode were changed from the novel. Again, who knows why.

 I have also fallen over myself here somewhat. In my appraisal of Nicholas Quinn I stated that I was unsure if Dexter wrote the novels in a way as to be unsolvable by the reader.  I also clearly stated I'm as a rule untuned to crime writing. Well as I read this Morse novel I found myself gathering my suspicions about whodunit. By the time Morse had it sorted out and done the arresting I was pleased to note I had been on the right track, albeit in a muddied type way. I certainly didn't get it spot on, but I certainly was on the right track. So chuffed with myself I was!!

 I also stated that so far I haven't really got a favorite Morse novel as such. Well I can now confirm that this one is undoubtedly a favorite!! It has got to do with almost having solved it, and by doing so appreciated Dexter's cunning and devious writing skills even more. I also like how in this Lewis is the one who really cracked the case and not Morse. Morse knows Lewis done so but doesn't actually acknowledge as much to him verbally. It is a rare thing in a Morse novel to see Lewis get his due for once. This is after at one stage Morse has a serious temper explosion at him for sloppiness in his reports. Again I can't help but feel Dexter himself is highly egotistical, knows it, and is able to so faithfully replicate his vanity in Morse.

 In this novel too Dexter displays his personal knowledge thorough his creature, Inspector Morse. Dexter had been a senior classics teacher in Northamptonshire before his retirement due to deafness. In the novel Morse has a theory that is similar to Oedipus Rex by the Greek tragedian Sophocles. It is quite an interesting discourse as Morse attempts to convince a somewhat uneducated and baffled Lewis. Lewis brings out Morse's ego by calling him educated which Morse replies egotistically 'By right I am!'

 So The Dead of Jericho is another very good Morse outing. I liked it more than any other Morse novel I have read, mainly because I came close to solving it! I also like how Lewis was given credit for once and looked like the good copper he his. Morse gives him grudging praise after his tantrum by saying they were a team. So much of Morses' success is off the back of the drudgery he sends Lewis off to do. Yes, this is a good crime novel and I again liked Dexter's knowledge, deviousness, and use of obscure words in bringing to life the intriguing, flawed character of Morse.

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