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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 6 September 2000
"Service of All The Dead" brings Inspector Morse into the murder of a churchwarden where nothing is what it appears to be.
As usual Colin Dexter conjures up a magnificently twisting plot that starts out simply and revolves into another complex mystery that only Morse can solve.
Although the plot of the novel is quite complex, Dexter manages to ensure that the reader is not too confused and brings the action along at a speedy pace which encourages prolonged reading. The character of Morse shines through the novel in a way that it never does when watching the television version. There is a wealth of supporting characters with well plotted histories and one of the best aspects of a Dexter novel is seeing Morse discover their involvements with the central murder of the novel and this one is no exception. Their motivations are always believable, as are their characteristics.
The actual details of the how and the why are a little more obvious than usual in this particular novel, but there is still a great detective story at the heart of this novel.
"Service of All The Dead" is a solid detective novel with wit and thrills in abundance. Highly recommended, if not the best in the series of Morse novels.
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on 10 December 2014
I read this out of curiosity (and attracted by the cheap price!). I'm not a regular reader of crime fiction, so I can't judge how it compares with others of the genre. As a novel, it was readable and engaging, though with minimal descriptions and stereotypical characterisation for the most part and, of course, a quite ludicrous plot. Certainly, it cuts it as an easy read. The set-up is familiar from Sherlock Holmes - the brilliant but flawed detective with his dumb but brave and faithful sidekick, the local police missing the clues and the Machiavellian villain.

And in its own terms, it manages to introduce the requisite number of false trails and red herrings to keep the 'whodunnit' guesswork going. I did manage to guess the outcome about two thirds through, but without really knowing why, and other possibilities were still open. Good fun is had by all.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 September 2014
I don't think I've read any of the Morse novels since The Remorseful Day in 1999. More than half my life ago. I saw an episode on TV and had a hankering to revisit them, so I picked this one up, as I remembered particularly grappling with it when younger, thinking I would get more out of it this time.

I certainly did - I remember being a bit puzzled by it the last time I read it, and certainly the solution is quite complex (I'm still not sure I'm absolutely clear on the motive for the first murder...), but I completely loved the experience of re-reading this. It was like returning to a favourite holiday destination after many years and finding it's still as beautiful as you remember. Dexter writes wonderfully slyly, and plots exceptionally well. The whole thing is gripping, mysterious, fun, witty, intelligent. Blah blah blah. I'm keen to re-read a few more, now.
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on 30 May 2016
Great read if your enjoy the murder mystery genre. Nice and easy to read, great storyline with many twists & turns, if you have read any of Colin Dexter's books in the past and enjoyed them you will not be disappointed.
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on 21 December 2014
I have only recently got round to reading the Morse books and I can't say I'm impressed.Each one, so far, including this one, has been rambling, tedious, repetitive and barely credible, with a tacked-on, unconvincing ending, as though the writer had run out of ideas. Unusually I find the TV adaptations superior to the feeble novels with their stereotypical caricatures and the TV plots, however modified, are far more engaging. Some might find the crude, dirty old man Morse of the novels a turn on and regard his vulgarity compensated for by his erudition. Just inferior Holmes and Watson stories.
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on 8 April 2015
Well written fact gathering mission that proves to be as confusing and difficult to unravel as any saga involving misguided members of the human race. Interpreting the resulting misconceptions is Morse's forte!
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on 4 January 2015
This is an excellent example of the detective genre, beautifully written and redolent with the atmosphere of the dreaming spires. I have read every one of them, and each has transfixed me with the eloquence of the writing and the depiction of the characters.
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on 14 December 2014
Inspector Morse needs no recommendation from me. This book is set among the clergy and congregation of an Anglican church in Oxford. The setting and the people are well-realised and any Colin Dexter fan will find it 'a good read'
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on 8 December 2014
I had not read a Morse book although had watched many of the TV series. I was surprised at how readily the characters portrayed by the actors in the series were supported by the book. Enjoyed the reading.
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on 4 August 2016
The first thing to mention here is that this book is one of the Inspector Morse books, and indeed we get to hear a lot from the great detective here. Lewis, his faithful accomplice, doesn’t get as much of a look in until halfway through, but when he does come in, his part is triumphant and he’s the perfect sidekick.

What’s interesting to note is that the story line follows the church, and whilst I’ll admit that I’m a life-long atheist, I still found it interesting to take a look behind the scenes at the clergy, and it’s clear that Dexter did his research.

It’s a decent enough mystery, but it doesn’t stand above the other Morse books for me. In parts, it was a little complicated, with some characters posing as other characters and murky motives that I didn’t fully understand at the end of it. I wasn’t sure if it was actually enough to explain why someone would become a multiple murderer.

But I read through it quickly enough – I got from start to finish in a couple of days. It’s a gripping story that keeps you powering through and there are plenty of characters to choose from, and it’s interesting to see Morse get up to his usual tricks. There are also a couple of references to his lack of a first name – throughout the series, it’s never revealed, which is an interesting little quirk.

And the good thing about Colin Dexter’s books is the way that you can read them out of order without losing anything. Honestly, I have no idea which order you’re actually supposed to read them in, but that’s one of its unique benefits. That also means you can skip this one and read one of the better books, then come back to it later on.
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