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It almost feels like some kind of confession to reveal that I have never previously read any of the Inspector Morse books and neither have I ever watched a full episode of the TV series. Thanks to the books coming out on Audible (quite a number of them were just released) I have now remedied that. What I found was a thoroughly enjoyable mystery and more than adequate police procedural novel. The beginnings of the chemistry between Morse and Lewis is enjoyable. Morse isn't an easy character, bit of an opera snob and he does sometimes treat Lewis rather poorly.
The book though is of course over four decades old. In some ways it's a little quaint as Morse talks about the wonders that his forensic boys can perform in the days before DNA, ANPR and mobile phone records. There's also a charming naivete about one of the methods that Morse uses to track down a suspect - though I guess it could work with a bit of luck thrown in as the author admits. The narration strikes just the right tone for a book of the period, it's clear, precise and never overly demonstrative.
This was of course the 70s though, a time of very different attitudes and sensibilities. The continuous series of high profile court cases and news stories harking back to that time give very apt testament to how those attitudes could manifest themselves. So there is here the kind of casual sexism that could offend. I took a look at other reviews on Goodreads and other sites and there are a fair few people who felt this spoiled the book for them including one that suggested the books should be re-written to remove that aspect from the characters. I can't subscribe to that, this is a product of its time and taken in context it's authentic. To retrofit it to today's standard would be plain wrong. It's not particularly excessive though I have to confess that even to me a chat up line used by Morse early in the book sounded supremely cringe worthy! Overall it's not hugely bad but it is there and it's clearly enough to spoil it for some which I can understand.
So, you're getting a book written over four decades ago with all that entails. I enjoyed it and I suspect I'll return for more of the books that have just been released. The quality of the writing and the iconic characters are reason enough for me.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
I am a great admirer of Samuel West as narrator, and of the TV Morse. But the book itself hasn't aged well. Morse comes across as a priapic dinosaur, nor redeemed by any indication that his views are not those of the author. I will try another, but will probably go back to watching Morse rather than reading/listening to the books.