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on 22 September 2012
There are two elements that raise Last Seen Wearing above usual police procedural fare. The first is the plotting and the second the characterization. Dexter maps out a wonderfully constructed story of feints and blind alleys as Morse stumbles from one line of reasoning to another, his theories constantly dashed on the rocks of empirical evidence. Every time it appears he has found a path forward, it turns into a cul-de-sac. This is not a tale of a genius cop who always finds his quarry, but is rather more Clouseau in his bumbling, much to Lewis' delight. Morse and Lewis are both well drawn, somewhat complex and paradoxical characters. Morse, for example, is both cultured and coarse, buying the Sunday Times and the News of the World as his Sunday papers and dragging Lewis into a strip club on a visit to London. The support cast of suspects were also nicely realised. As always, Oxford and its surrounds provide a scenic backdrop. Overall, a very enjoyable read.
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on 28 June 2007
Another good read from Colin Dexter. I really enjoyed LAST SEEN WEARING. The missing girl in the shape of the character Valerie Taylor had been missing for two years, three months and two days and had gone missing on her way back to school.

I liked the rapport between Morse and Lewis (Lewis in my mind as I read the book) had really got more confidence when talking to Morse and even when Lewis had to go to bed with the flu, he really thought about the case and gave Morse plenty to think about when he visited him.

I don't want to spoil it for readers who haven't read the book but what I can tell you is that the characters Baines and Phillipson were very dark and Colin Dexter invented twists and turns that were very surprising. This is what made the novel interesting for me to read and I was surprised by Mrs.Taylor's actions (Valerie's mother) and the big surprise was at the end but you'll have to read the book as I don't want to spoil it for anybody.

Congratulations to Pan (Colin Dexter's publishers) for the great covers) and to Colin himself for penning another great novel. Well done!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 June 2016
This is only the second of the Inspector Morse series, but is one of the very best of the thirteen books. Rarely has Dexter managed better characterization and the plotting is complex in the extreme.

The plot involves the disappearance of Valerie Taylor, a teenage schoolgirl on her way back from lunching at home. This occurred over two years ago and she has not been since since. The investigating officer continued to work on the case informally but is then killed in a motor accident. Shortly thereafter, a letter purporting to come from Valerie is received by her parents, and Morse and Lewis are asked to continue the investigation.

Morse initially has little or no interest in a mere missing person case and much of the dog work falls on Lewis. Only when he is confined to bed does the Chief Inspector take up the reins himself. This section of the story is fascinating as it allows Lewis to gain a much truer perspective of Morse’s strengths and weaknesses, after which he accepts the latter because of the depth and unconventionality of the former. From the beginning Morse is adamant that Valerie is dead and acts on that assumption. This dead or alive theme runs through the story and allows Dexter to confuse the reader with a number of red herrings and apparent dead ends. In time a corpse does appear, but it is older, and male.

The central characteristic of Morse is developed to the full; his constant formulation of more-or-less convincing theories, each of which is demolished when further evidence emerges or when Lewis points out inherent inconsistences, an action that causes friction between the two men. Dead ends stop further plot deveIopment, only for Morse to discover an alternative avenue leading to another major theory. In these early books, Morse is much more of a bully towards Lewis and the people he interviews, and is equally drawn towards pub and pornography [at one point he even considers stealing a hardcore Danish magazine]. He is also very much attracted to a range of women but feelings of guilt are never far behind.

His choice of Sunday reading [The News Of The World and The Sunday Times, and the agonizing decision of which to read first] and his fear of straying too far into modern music from his regular diet of Bach, Bruckner and Wagner emphasise the complexity of a very human person who is often racked by insecurity.

The reader is in exactly the same position as Lewis in trying to understand Morse’s reasoning and becoming irritated by his ignoring for far too long any facts that do not comply with his current hypothesis. Gradually Morse comes to realise that Lewis’s thinking is robust and that he is a tremendous asset to his boss. Already the seed of Morse’s self-destruction, his excessive drinking, is evident and maybe Lewis’s friendship and professional support helps slow its progression. Dexter establishes a latent sense of Morse’s brutality that occasionally surfaces, as when he talks with a Maltese doorman in Soho or interviews a witness. In later books, these aspects are much less evident.

The list of characters includes teachers and their spouses, the girl’s parents and other pupils, and the investigation takes Morse and Lewis around Oxford and to Soho and Caernarfon, the latter by far the least convincing. In this early book, the relationship between the two policemen is just developing and, in Dexter’s hands, their disparity is most engaging. Gradually the backgrounds of all the characters is filled in and their complex inter-relationships established. Whilst Lewis is always in the shadows, Dexter is nevertheless able to establish many details of his character in this story and he ends up as very much more than a foil for the great man.

The writing is taut and part of the enjoyment lies in the references in the narrative that indicates its publication date – football coupons, Soho spivs and barkers, the limited range of alcohol available in pubs. Short extracts preceed each chapter and there are the usual entertaining references to crossword clues and answers, correct spelling and grammar, and to arcane words and facts. Overall, engrossing but rather troubling.
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on 21 September 2014
Although I have all of the Morse dvds and my wife and I have watched them a number of times, I have never read any of the books, so this is the first one. After two hours more or less continuously reading, I find it well written and very much a 'page turner'. I still have over half to finiish and have now ordered 'Last bus to Woodstock' from the same supplier, Sten Books, both brand new books.
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on 13 December 2011
Detective work by trial and error! Morse is an unusual, or perhaps just old fashioned detective, as he appears to base all of his theories on very flimsy ideas. I first read this book many years ago, and now, coming back to them I am surprised how equal Morse and Lewis appear - I had recollections of it being very much a master and servant relationship.

The looping back of the storyline is quite well managed but it is not a particularly riveting read.

Women get a fairly raw deal in any Dexter novel, very much there to be leered over rather than as any real part of a plot. Amazing how many beauties secretly urge for borderline alcoholic miserable police detectives!
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on 3 February 2013
This is the second novel in the Inspector Morse series, which was a very popular tv series in the 80s. This novel had a much better plot than the last. The mystery was much more interesting, I actually felt interested about what was going to happen and how the mystery would end. It flowed much better than the last, I didn't feel so disappointed when I reached the end.
The plot was more puzzling, and I actually didn't have any idea who did it, it was a lot less obvious. There were also a lot of plot twists through out, just as you thought you knew "who-dunnit" Dexter threw in a twist and you're back to square one.
I thought in general the characters in this book were much better than in the previous one, there was a wide and diverse range of characters which were much more interesting than the last. It was also great to learn more about Lewis, Morse's sidekick. Lewis is probably my favourite character.
In the last novel I really didn't like Morse, I thought he was some perverted old man who spent more time leering at young ladies than actually solving the crimes. Unfortunately he was the same in this novel, his personality causes me to approach these novels with caution.
Overall I enjoyed this novel more than the previous one, but it wasn't anything special, and I wouldn't recommend unless you are a fan of the series.
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on 23 August 2014
The second Morse story by the master crime writer Colin Dexter. A growing maturity in the plot and leading characters is clearly evident as the doleful detective continues his search for fullfillment.
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on 10 December 2014
Excellent first book in the series of Morse. Have read other Colin Dexter novels and find he has the ability to develop characters at the beginning of the first chapter. Now intend to read on following characters from this novel.
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on 30 December 2014
A splendidly complex plot. The secondary characters are well realised, but I find both Morse and Lewis very two dimensional. In particular, Lewis hardly exists as a character, but is used as a device to forward the plot. That said, the plot is such that you hurry on through the story (as in a Dan Brown) to find out what happens next. Also, the scenes are well described and readily visualised. Those in Oxford conform to my observations and recollections.
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on 21 January 2016
Colin Dexter is a great writer and story-line twists are mandatory in this genre. I felt that this tale just had too many blind alleys to remain a credible story. It actually occurred to me that Dexter was unsure of how to finish the book off himself!
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