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A rather difficult Inspector Morse mystery
on 28 August 2009
For Oxford, the arrival of 27 American tourists is nothing out of the ordinary ... until one of their number is found dead in Room 310 of the Randolph Hotel. It looks like a sudden - and tragic - accident. Only Chief Inspector Morse appears not to overlook the simultaneous theft of a jewel-encrusted antique from the victim's handbag. Then, two days later, a naked and battered corpse is dragged from the River Cherwell. A coincidence? Maybe. But this time Morse is determined to prove the link ... .
That's the book in a nutshell and I am not giving anything away here because this is what it says on the back of the book. You can read it before you read the book.
Even though one can rather quickly establish an idea why the old lady is dead and who stole the antique and who might have done her in, all this does not seem to be important to Chief Inspector Morse. He completely ignores the old lady and her jewel and concentrates solely on the other corpse. In the end, he solves that murder and it does make sense in a way. He also solves the death of the old lady and the possible whereabouts of the antique, but these really do appear as an unimportant side-affair.
What I didn't particularly like about the book is that because of so many people involved - some of whom entertain rather interesting relationships amongst themselves - there are too many potential plots, which made it rather difficult for me to figure out what is happening. And because of that I found it almost impossible to follow Inspector Morse's train of thought. If it wasn't for his great reckoning at the end of the book, I would be left in the middle of nowhere.
On a positive note, the title of the book is excellent. The reader may have an idea what is meant by `The Jewel' but towards the end of the book it becomes quite clear that there is more than one possibility.
If you are new to Colin Dexter I would recommend one of his earlier books to begin with instead because this one might put you off Colin Dexter altogether. And that would be a shame.