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Couldn't resist the title - any closet radio operators out there?

I've tried so hard to like Inspector Morse, but I'm afraid Colin Dexter's books still don't do it for me. Morse as played on the TV by John Thaw was very likeable; irascible and a bit of a pain in the neck, but very human and that combined with some clever adaptations of the books (often rather better than the books themselves), along with the beauty of Oxford, and a great score by Barrington Pheloung made it an outstanding success. The books however - well, um, sorry - I just can't get into them.

Morse is just a pain in the neck - a grumpy, if well educated man, with an empathy-gap the size of the Forth Road Bridge, who knows it all. He is as Colin Dexter keeps telling us brilliantly logical and is able to use his classical education to great effect as an investigative tool. The only problem with this is he doesn't get it right, he keeps getting it wrong, and only catches the villain because just about everyone else has been arrested and proved innocent.

The dead of Jericho is a classic example of this. Morse meets a beautiful woman and bowls her over with his charm, the relationship progresses no further for no apparent reason, but Morse is on the spot some months later when the woman commits suicide. A very tangled web is then woven, which gets more and more ridiculous until Morse eventually comes out with a solution which would have made Sophocles proud - it's actually a pretty neat solution, but, no, Colin Dexter then shies away from it, and comes out with another solution part of which any reader with half-a-crime-fiction-brain would have guessed from the moment of the murder, while the other part of  it seems plain silly, as it gives no justification for the actions of one of the (apparently) major characters. Dexter's description of place is brilliant, Oxford comes alive under his pen; and the book isn't a bad light read, but I just found it so frustrating - or as my Dad would have said - too clever by half (which usually means that it isn't)


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