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Colin Dexter
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Last Bus To Woodstock
papaerback
320 pages
Beautiful Sylvia Kaye and another young woman had been seen hitching a ride not long before Sylvia's bludgeoned body is found outside a pub in Woodstock, near Oxford. Morse is sure the other hitchhiker can tell him much of what he needs to know. But his confidence is shaken by the cool inscrutability of the girl he's certain was Sylvia's companion on that ill-fated September evening.

Shrewd as Morse is, he's also distracted by the complex scenarios that the murder set in motion among Sylvia's girlfriends and their Oxford playmates. To grasp the painful truth, and act upon it, requires from Morse the last atom of his professional discipline.

Bit strange to read this after having grown up on watching the TV series, as the Morse in Colin Dexter's novels isn't quite like the one played so excellently by John Thaw. Described as being much younger, and quite a ladiesman, it takes some getting used to. The story is pretty convincing however, and reasonably gripping. Some nice plot twists and nothing too predictable, so quite a good effort for a first try!

Recommended!
8/10
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Colin Dexter
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Last Seen Wearing
paperback
224 pages
"Last Seen Wearing" sees Morse and his sidekick, Lewis, assigned to a missing persons case. Just over two years previously, Valerie Taylor - a seventeen year old pupil at a local comprehensive school, had disappeared. The case had been investigated by one of Morse's colleagues, Chief Inspector Ainley, but was never closed. Morse has now inherited the case following Ainley's death in a car accident. Although technically a "cold case", it was one that Ainley had never stopped investigating - albeit unofficially and in his own time, in the latter stages. Ainley was returning from London when he had his car accident - Morse believes he discovered something important there.

The day she disappeared, Valerie had come home for her lunch - although she left to return to school for her afternoon lessons, it seems she never arrived there. However, a letter has now arrived home - apparently from Valerie, saying she's fine but doesn't want to be found. According to the postmark, it was posted in London the day after Ainley's death. Morse, for no clear reason, decides that Valerie is actually dead and the letter is a forgery.

Since Valerie disappeared on the way back to school, Morse and Lewis naturally look into her school-life. Three staff-members, as it turns out, crop up regularly in the investigation. One is the school's headmaster - who had only been appointed to the position three years previously. (From the book's prologue, there's a suspicion he may have had a quick roll in the hay with Valerie on the day of his interview. Naturally, he wouldn't have known she was one of his prospective pupils at the time). Phillipson is still relatively young - he's only in his mid-thirties and is married with two young children. The school's vice-principal, on the other hand, is a single man in his fifties called Baines. He'd been passed over by the school's Board of Governors for the headmaster's position, and it's clear that he and Phillipson don't get on well together. The final staff member is David Acum, who had only taught in the school for one year - leaving shortly after Valerie had disappeared to take up a teaching position in Wales. Acum had taken Valerie's last class before she went missing.

While it's a better book that "Last Bus to Woodstock" - the first in the Morse series - there are still plenty of flaws in "Last Seen Wearing".

Not a bad effort though
7/10
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