on 16 July 2001
This is a rare Inspector Morse. Not only is the great man at his fallible best, but paradoxically, you can also see signs that age is catching up with him. The cases themselves have all the intricate complexities and red herrings that you expect in any Morse story but somehow their exquisite detailing is more cogent than ever before.
And Love raises its unexpected head, wafting through the pages, even while Morse's adscititious mannerisms provide the most gelid setting for it to flourish.
More than once does Morse's atrabilious approach call for the greatest equanimity from the long-suffering Lewis; and yet I daresay that this compendium has the most encomiums that Morse has ever bestowed on Lewis.
The first story has more than one mystery to it; including, not least of all, the mysterious letter writer who succeeds in resurrecting a forgotten disappearance. The mystery deepens and poses unexpected questions when all seems to have been explained.
The second is Morse in love but is it ephemeral? And how much is the great man diverted by this demirep. Or is there more than one feminine lure to render Morse effete ?
And the third shows Morse resorting almost to chicanery, thus exhibiting his well-known intransigence towards procedures and processes. But as always, Morse is able to restore in you the faith in his own peculiar sense of ethics.
Through it all, the bibulous, captious Morse, manages to retain our affections and even sympathy as he recovers from the few false steps that he takes.
This is a compendium that must be savoured slowly ; for every page has a gem . It's either the twist in the story line itself, or perhaps a choice bonmot or the use of a particular word that shows Dexter's commitment to Atticism. And, of course, like he does with all his books, Dexter leaves your English vocabulary much enriched.