Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Inspector Morse

I never got hooked on the TV series. I watched an episode or two. Gentle, middlebrow stuff, not really for me.

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...
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