Book Review- Last Bus to Woodstock

Monday, 15 October 2012
Title: Last Bus to Woodstock
Author: Colin Dexter
Publication Date: 1975
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 309
Series: Inspector Morse #1
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Detective, Adult

Rating: 3/5

The death of Sylvia Kaye figured dramatically in Thursday afternoon's edition of the Oxford Mail.

By Friday evening Inspector Morse had informed the nation that the police were looking for a dangerous man - facing charges of wilful murder, sexual assault and rape.

But as the obvious leads fade into twilight and darkness, Morse becomes more and more convinced that passion holds the key...- Goodreads

My mum watched a program on tv called Inspector Morse, a few years ago (I don't know when it was released). It's plot was based on the novels of the same name by Colin Dexter. My mum really enjoyed this program, so when she spotted the whole Inspector Morse collection for only a tenner on thebookpeople.com, she insisted I bought it (its only £5 now, if you're interested!). I am a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, so I hoped it would be of the same vein.
Alas it wasn't, where Sherlock is witty and sharp, Morse is rude and vulgar.
The plot in this novel is about a girl who is murdered one evening after hitchhiking a ride home with her friend. Morse spends a lot of time telling anyone who will listen that he knows who did it, and then being proven wrong. He treats the Sergeant, who he is working on the case with like dirt, and feels attracted to nearly every woman he interviews during the investigation.
The plotline itself wasn't that bad, Dexter kept you guessing as to who did it, with their being suspicion lingering around everyone. I do feel that a flaw in the plot was all the characters that Dexter kept introducing, there became so many that I struggled to keep track of who was who.
The major thing in this novel that I disliked was the characters, mainly Morse himself. To me he seemed quite old in this novel, late 50s in my mind, and he spent a good chunk of the novel flirting with, or going on dates with various suspects in the case. This jarred with me, as I really expect an Inspector to keep within certain boundaries when investigating a crime. Maybe this is just me being weird, but it felt wrong with me.
Apart from being a bit sleezy, Morse was also incredibly cocky, and childish, he would fly into terribly childish tantrums if things weren't going well.
The other characters weren't bad, but weren't really memorable at all. A few characters meet a rather sad and unfortunate end, which I won't mention just in case I spoil it for you. Also I didn't guess who had done it, so it was nice to be surprised at the end.
Overall I gave this novel 3/5, and I will pick up the next in the series (only because I own the whole series!) but I would be reluctant to recommend this as a mystery novel that anyone would enjoy. Maybe it was wrong of me to draw comparisons between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Morse, as they are completely different. Maybe I was being to harsh on Morse, maybe it is better than I think, I guess you will have to read it to find out. In my mind, nobody can reach the writing masterpieces of Conan Doyle anyway!

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