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4.2 out of 5 stars78
4.2 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 2 January 2014
Seen the lot on TV (many times over) but this was my second novel. Far greater detail on Morse himself, especially the back-story about his youth (script ideas for 'Endeavour', anyone?). Even more surprising was the time devoted to develop the character of Lewis whom I had dismissed as a blank sheet of paper in 'Last Seen Wearing'.

One surprise is the frequently used 'crime-writing' technique adopted by Mr Dexter. He seems to have discovered Mary Roberts Rinehart and the 'Had I But Known' school of writing. Numerous examples of '..if he would have found out then....' and, 'neither of them realised then what would have happened if..'. I assume this is just for this novel rather than the whole series.

There are some lovely pieces. The description of Lewis as ,'an unsuspecting catalyst' was just perfect. Likewise I liked the description of Morse as 'spouting improbable notions in the certainty that by the law of averages some might be near the truth'. This explains one of the frustrations with Morse; he gets it wrong so many times before gloriously getting it right.

A single-sitting read. The story progresses at the archetypal leisurely pace and is only spolied by the sudden torrent of exposition condensed into little more than a page and a half. At the moment I feel Mr Dexter's strengths may be Morse and Oxford rather than as a pure crime writer. Thankfully there are several more books to discover.
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on 18 April 2012
Good quality dexterism. A typically convoluted Morse plot with numerous false leads. Confirms long-standing impressions of the totally sociopathic nature of Oxford academia!
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on 18 May 2008
This is very intelligent writing and engages the reader at many differing levels from the outset. A classic of the genre.
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on 26 April 2016
Okay, let’s lay down some truth on this one. I read over half of this book, the second half, whilst getting the train home on Christmas Eve. Beer was involved. I don’t really remember the final fifty pages.

Still, it was alright – it was eminently readable, although maybe not as addictive as some of the other Morse novels that I read. In fact, I’d potentially re-read this again in the future, so that I could pick up on some of the subtle nuances that passed me by this time round.

Loosely speaking, the story line follows Morse’s investigation when a body is discovered which is missing its head, its arms and its legs. This makes identification difficult, if not in possible, and we’re forced to ask ourselves, as the reader, why somebody would go to that much effort. Are they trying to hide the identity of the victim? Perhaps.

There was a big twist at the end of the book which added an additional element to the story line, but I struggled to follow the train of thought that led to the conclusion. In some ways, this spoiled the book for me – it felt like I’d spent ages reading up on the history of the case, and then the denouement at the end was whizzed over. But again, that could be the beer.

So overall, I’d say that this book was okay, but there are better Colin Dexter books on the market. Read this only if you’ve worked through the others.
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on 8 February 2014
I enjoyed the book very much, its a good detective story with just enough blood and gore to keep the interest going. I got a bit muddled with the professor characters but that might just be me! I would recommend it to anyone who loves Inspector Morse from the TV, I had not read any of the stories before but could relate to the character from the TV series. Very enjoyable.
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on 2 March 2002
It's certainly a crime of the most perplexing sort--so perplexing (and convoluted) that it
would take an Inspector Morse to separate the "facts" from "fiction"! In Colin Dexter's
Morse novel, one of a long series, the erswhile policeman finds himself "drowning" in a sea of clues,
lies, innuendos, red herrings.
A dismembered body is fished out of the Oxford Canal--only the torso remains and
Morse and Sergeant Lewis are up to the challenge. As if often the case, Oxford
University is involved. A don has disappeared, leaving about a plethora of clues. It's the
long and winding road down the halls of academe for the Thames Valley police and the
trail bounces back and forth to London and some of its seedier spots.
The scenario seems set with an opening scene out of World War II, when the
Gilbert brothers (local boys from the Oxford area) face the horrors of the battle of El
Alamein, the youngest of the three dieing. The company commander, a Lt. Browne-Smith
just happens now to be a don in question at Oxford.
Dexter pulls on punches as he permits Morse and Lewis to take on this
bizarre--certainly macabre--case. With his usual erudite style, the author's clever, at times
witty and ascerbic, plot and character development takes the reader for a great ride (and
read). Written in 1983, long before, one presumes, Dexter had envisioned Morse's demise
("The Remorseful Day"), "The Riddle of the Third Mile" is carefully orchestrated, with
the climactic results rushing in with a top crescendo! (The reader must be a bit careful as
the facts and events come almost as an onslaught!) The tone of this episode, despite its
shocking crime scenario, is one of greater levity than some of his later books ("The Wench
Is Dead," for instance),but it was written some 15 years before "Remorseful Day," and the
tone and atmosphere are naturally different. This one gives additional insight into Morse's
earlier (younger) days, of his stepping down from Oxford and of the first love of his life
(Morse is ever the eternal optimist when it comes to beautiful women!). Dexter also fills
this one with his usual literary allusions, clever references, and an incredible vocabulary
(probably only equated by Dame P.D. James or William Buckley, themselves!).
I found this one probably to be the most delightful and intriguing of the Morse series,
perhaps because of the levity he chooses to exhibit. Regardless, readers of the Morse code
will find this episode in fine keeping with the others. A good read!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 January 2015
I'm slowly reading my way back through the Morse novels I remember being particularly fond of, and got quite a little surprise with this one. This one's a gem - a fast-moving, mysterious, indulgently labyrinthine beast of a detective novel, that has the perfect mix of convoluted-ness and explicability. Occasionally Dexter takes his plots a bit far and you need to sit down with a pen and paper to wrestle them into sense in your brain, but this is one where you satisfactorily emerge into the light without too much effort, and a few wonderful strokes of Dexter's telling pen. Morse is wonderful here, the plotting is incredibly devious, and the whole thing incredibly satisfying. The best one I've returned to so far.
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on 23 October 2012
I've never thought I liked crime fiction but then read Watermark and wanted to read more, particularly with universitites and academia as the backdrop. My father-in-law loved Inspector Morse, so I thought I'd try one, and now I'm completely hooked. Colin Dexter is just a great author and the plots and twists in The Riddle of the Third Mile kept me turning the pages from start to finish. The sense of Oxford and the charaters that inhabit the academic world are beautifully evoked, warts and all. I'm sure I'm going to read my way through the whole Colin Dexter catalogue!
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on 9 December 2014
Very good read, I'd forgotten how confusing the Inspector Morse books actually are. The TV portrayal by John Thaw was really good although a bit more 'sociable' than in the books. This story had me guessing right to the end, and I might buy some more in future. I would recommend it to anyone who likes a brain twisting mystery to get their teeth into. I do wonder though if all the Colleges in Oxford have the same petty jealousies and conflicts shown?
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on 14 December 2014
It's not bad but nowhere near as good as the television series, in the book it's as though he is in conversation with you but not telling you a story.
I found it a little off putting but thing about it enjoyable, I did finish the book but I found the Morse Character different from what I was expecting, however I will try another book by this author.
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