But the book was lying there and I wanted a change from Dickens.
The first surprise was it's not very well written. Awkwardness, pomposity, uncertainty of tone, too many adjectives and adverbs- all the marks of the literary amateur. I thought this was going to be at the high end of the market and it's not. Morse is a culture-buff, but his reported judgements are banal; Keats is a "fine poet. ...You should read him, Lewis", Wagner is "exquisite", the spires of Oxford are "stately". Dorothy Sayers or P.D. James this ain't.
The second surprise was- hold on a minute- Morse is a porn-fiend. How very unJohn Thaw. He gripes at the News of the World for not being racy enough, he thumbs through a suspect's collection of "supremely pornographic" Scandanavian magazines and barely represses the urge to pocket one, he sends Lewis to do some detecting and passes the afternoon in a strip club, he appraises women in a way that may have been less offensive in 1976 than it is now.
Also he drinks too much. I don't know where the drink driving laws stood in the mid 70s but there's no doubt if he were around today he'd be persistently over the limit.
A bit of a saddo really. I suppose that's the point. He's a crap policeman who gets his results by woolgathering. A not uninteresting conceit.
The Oxford setting goes for less than I imagined it would. A lot of places are name-checked but otherwise this could be anywhere in middle England.
The final test of a whodunnit is whether it foxes you or not. I already have my eye on a suspect- and not the one that's been foregrounded to put us off the scent. We'll see...