Top positive review
28 people found this helpful
I think 'unputdownable' is the correct adjective
on 9 March 2002
I don't know what it is. Perhaps it's the short chapters, which give you enough to get you intrigued and leave you wanting to find out what happens next. (It's one of those books where you tell yourself you've always got time for one more chapter). Or perhaps it's some force at work within the novel, something to do with Dexter's laying out of the plot, the way he moves from one event to the next. But what is perhaps the most obvious reason for the appeal of the Morse novels (and in particular this one) is the man himself, good old Endeavour.
There's something about the character that attracts the reader. Most of Morse's most prevalent foibles, and the most notable events from his past, are brought in here. The parallels with A. E. Housman are there - an old and clever man, who never married, who failed his degree (at St. John's College, Oxford - see 'The Riddle of the Third Mile') and who finds the sight of blood and death one that is sickening and saddening. There is even a quotation from Housman as an epigraph for the book, whence Dexter got the title of this, the final mystery.
This was probably the longest of all Morse novels, yet it sustains the reader's interest, primarily because we want to see what happens to Morse. For the Morse novels have never really been about solving crime, have they? They're about the character.
The television adaptation was good too, especially when Morse (John Thaw) recited the Housman lines to Lewis. One of those lump-in-the-throat moments.