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Death is Now My Neighbour (Inspector Morse Series Book 12) Kindle Edition
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Dexter’s hallmarks are everywhere, a complex plot, apt quotes introducing each of the many short chapters, crossword clues, Morse’s love of Wagner and Houseman [and ambivalence to Bach], compelling hypotheses constructed and then disregarded when contradictory evidence appears, Lewis running around at Morse’s beck and call, and insights into the politics of Lonsdale College where the election of a new Master is underway. The weakness of the author’s presentation of women characters continues but this is a minor point given the enjoyment that this book gave me.
The neighbours are Rachel James, a physiotherapist, and Geoffrey Owens, a journalist; both had been shot and each wore their hair in a long pony tail. Might there be a connection? Of course, Morse and Lewis find many that lead to blackmail, bed-hopping and, for Morse, a trip to Soho during which he enters ‘a seedy-looking thoroughfare, where a succession of establishments promised XXXX videos and magazines [imported], shows [live], strip-tease [continuous] – and a selection of freshly made sandwiches [various].’ Because this is ‘only’ a detective novel it is easy to overlook just how good the writing is, and at so many levels.
The book, written in 1996, is dated in many aspects – not least in the speed of letter delivery, the time required for scientific tests and the absence of electronic record keeping that hinders the investigation. No doubt Oxford colleges are no different today but this casts light on murky events behind the scenes. Morse still thinks a great deal about women who, in turn, think about him. However, he realises that, due to his emotional withdrawal, he has lost the opportunity to settle down to a satisfying domestic life like Lewis’ [with its constant supply of eggs and chips]. He is unable or unwilling to reflect on this and increasingly uses alcohol as a support. However, this is now an open secret amongst his colleagues.
It goes without saying that to get the best out of Dexter’s characters, one should read the books in sequence. However, it would be best to leave a few weeks between each because there are repetitious elements that otherwise might frustrate.
Morse enters the scene with the murder of Rachel James. What makes it somewhat more difficult this time is that there is next to no reason why the young lady should have been killed and it is only with the second murder of Geoffrey Owens that the whole mystery becomes a good deal clearer. The conclusion I shall let you read yourself but it struck me somewhat unfortunate for the victims, hence the title of my review.
What I love about Colin Dexter is how well he develops his characters. What makes this novel perhaps a touch more difficult than other Morse novels is that all the characters are involved and/or connected with each other, which gives the reader a hell of a job to follow all the possible combinations on what may have happened. From my point of view, this makes the story more exciting.
Morse is still his good old self. Rude and always out of pocket when it comes to paying for the pint. You will notice that his health has again deteriorated. He is now drinking not because it helps him to think but to counter-balance the insulin injections he needs. But these novels would not be half the fun without him.
The other thing I like about this book and every single book since `The Dead Of Jericho' are the proverbs Colin Dexter opens his chapters with. Excellent show.
I seem to read stories in any sequence and so found no difficulty in picking up this late in the career of Morse story. I found it hard to put the book down once I had started reading. I found the chapters easy to read and in almost bite sized sections.
The characters are by this time well worked and the atmosphere of the Oxford Colleges and police routine sit side by side. I will certainly read more of these stories and can recommend this story. Pricewise great value.
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