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Last Bus To Woodstock (1996)

Last Bus to Woodstock (1996)
3.93 of 5 Votes: 1
0804114900 (ISBN13: 9780804114905)
ivy books
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Last Bus To Woodstock (1996)
Last Bus To Woodstock (1996)

About book: I came to the Inspector Morse novels by a round-about route. We visited my in-laws over Labor Day weekend, and on Sunday evening wound up watching a bit of TV. Usually I do my best to ignore the television---engrossing myself in a crossword or a good book. But this particular evening a show called Inspector Lewis was on. At first I didn't pay too much attention but I wound up getting sucked in. It had interesting characters, and the setting---in and around Oxford, England was a familiar blend of the urban and the academic. The final plot twists were a bit of a stretch, but overall, the show was enjoyable---high praise from someone who usually does his best to ignore the television! Over the next few Sundays, Jackie and I watched additional episodes of Inspactor Lewis until PBS's Mystery! rotated off to some other series of whodunits. Being curious, I did a bit of poking around on the web and discovered that Inspector Lewis was a spin-off of an earlier PBS/BBC series called Inspector Morse, where the Lewis character appeared as Sgt. Lewis. Furthermore Inspector Morse was based an a series of mystery novels by Colin Dexter, the first of which was Last Bus to Woodstock. A quick trip to the library, and I had another book to read...Overall, this was a pleasant read, with a well-crafted mystery and good writing. It is firmly in the "hardboiled" school of detective fiction, presenting a gritty and ugly picture of humanity, focusing in particular on the sexual foibles of nearly every character---having affairs, buying pornography, engaged to people they don't love, looking for no-strings-attached sex, and so on. Morse, himself, is unlucky in love, drinks a lot, and is generally painted as a brilliant intuitive detective who is leading an unhappy life. While I think this was a pretty good book in the abstract, the bleak world view it presented wasn't really my cup of tea.An odd aspect of reading this book was how old it made me feel. Characters rely on regular telephones, and even the postal service to communicate with each other! Facts have to be gathered via legwork; there is no internet. Reports are typed, and papers left at the office can't be retrieved electronically. Women are still pretty much confined to traditional gender stereo-typed roles---housewife, secretary, barmaid, and nurse. This is clearly a relic of an earlier age. Yet it was written in 1975---when I was ten years old---reminding me that I, too, am a relic of a different age.I may pick up one or two later books in the series to see how Dexter and his characters develop over time, but I probably won't read the entire series.

Like many, I suspect, I came to Inspector Morse through the BBC series starring John Thaw. The original novels don't disappoint!In this his first book Morse is described as a man facing middle age, thin, and dark-haired. In this story he meets the long-suffering Lewis and investigates the murder of Sylvia Kaye. Ms. Kaye was apparently raped and murdered in the car park of a pub in Woodstock, after having missed the bus and instead hitchhiked there. There are obvious suspects, but of course all is not as it appears.This book is wonderfully written. Morse is a decent man, although lecherous and only a bit curmudgeonly (less so, I think, than in the TV series). He acts through intuition, although he claims not to. One of the entertaining things about him is that he is usually wrong about who done it once or twice in the course of the novel, but you can depend on him to figure it out in the end.Of course since Sherlock Holmes died and stayed dead, most detective stories can't decide whether they are mysteries or Serious Literature about the detective's loneliness and existential angst, whatever that is, but Dexter is a good enough writer to pull it off entertainingly.I would rate this as five stars except for plot implausibility. (view spoiler)[In a way which is so frequent as to be stereotypical, in this book Morse meets a beautiful woman and falls instantly in love with her for no particular reason, and she with him. This, of course, means that she is guilty of the murder. Because this is such a cliche I knew who was guilty before there was any evidence implicating her. (hide spoiler)]
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David Fulmer
I am afraid that I am not a fan of Inspector Morse, the Oxford detective in charge of investigating the murder of a young woman in this, the first novel of a series of novels written about him by Colin Dexter. Though an Anglophile with an abiding respect for the mystery novel, I just can’t endorse this novel with a plodding investigation involving a few Oxford dons, a small business office, and a few nurses at a hospital, conducted thoroughly and with a small amount of endearing attitude by the dour Morse. The characters were ordinary and drab, Morse’s personal involvement seemed weird, and the denouement strained credibility, or at least it did mine. The plot was exceedingly complex and not without some twists you can’t see coming but there are other novels out there with richer characterization, a sense of place, and more atmosphere than this standard genre entry.
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
My first experience of Morse - I used to watch the TV programme and was always worried that the books would be too much for me - too clever (that't not to say that I'm not bright - I read to relax, I don't necessarily want to think too much about what I read). I shouldn't have been so worried. This was such an easy read. I must admit though I had the voice of John Thaw in my head most of the time - but the Morse that appears on paper is certainly not the Morse that subsequently appeared on scree
James Thane
This is the book that introduced Colin Dexter's famous protagonist, Chief Inspector Morse of the Oxford Homicide Division. Morse is a confirmed bachelor who is attracted to women, liquor and complex homicide investigations. Here we also meet the man who would be Morse's sidekick throughout the series, the much put-upon Sergeant Lewis.As the book opens, two attractive young women are waiting for a bus. One of them, Sylvia Kaye, grows impatient and decides to hitch a ride instead. She is later discovered murdered in the parking lot of a pub in Woodstock. Morse is assigned to the case and his first challenge is to find the young woman who was waiting for the bus with the victim. The woman turns out to be particularly elusive and when Morse narrows down the list to the woman he KNOWS must be Sylvia's friend, the young woman steadfastly insists that Morse is wrong. Why won't she own up to the obvious truth?Other obstacles block Morse's investigation and along the way, he will become enamored with one of the women central to the case. He will be forced to discard one theory after another until it seems possible that there will never be a solution to the case, but Morse will never be one to give up.This is a solid introduction to the series and the characters of Morse and Lewis, once established here, will remain virtually constant through the remainder of the series. Many Americans first met Morse when this series was adapted for television and exported to the U.S. and those who enjoy British crime fiction are almost certainly guaranteed to like this book and the rest that follow.
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