I started thinking about some of the non Cozy mysteries I have read that I consider classics from yesteryear, one of which is Colin Dexter‘s Last Bus to Woodstock, the book that introduced Dexter’s classic detective, Inspector Morse.
Note that Colin Dexter definitely isn’t a Cozy mystery author. His books are much closer to police procedural than Cozy >>> they star an actual member of the police, and include many elements that would not be included in Cozies (mostly swearing, graphic description of violence, and much stronger sexual themes in the mysteries investigated).
Despite this, I feel that a lot of Cozy readers still have a very convenient entry point to Colin Dexter’s work >>> the very excellent and long-running Inspector Morse television series, as well as its modern spin-offs, Endeavor and Inspector Lewis (for the record, I don’t think the spin-offs, are as good as the original Inspector Morse television series).
Last Bus to Woodstock introduced us to Chief Inspector Morse (whose first name isn’t known for quite a long time, so I won’t use it either generally), as well as his Detective Sergeant, Robert (Robbie) Lewis. Morse and Lewis are an exceptional pair, working well off each other to help make sure that all potential avenues of investigation are covered. It’s obvious that both men consider the other a partner who complements their skills. Morse is a surprisingly educated man for a police officer, enjoying classical operas and crossword puzzles, though he has few personal ties. Lewis, on the other hand, is relatively uneducated, but has strong family ties. The pair are actually surprisingly well suited partners – while Morse is prone to flashes of brilliance, Lewis has the far more organized approach to crime solving, letting him gather the clues and collate the data that Morse needs to come up with whatever brilliant deduction he will eventually reach.
Though I haven’t seen the Inspector Morse television series in years, I still think that it’s worth discussing whenever Colin Dexter’s books come up. Even Dexter himself considered John Thaw’s portrayal of Morse to be beyond reproach, considering him such an iconic portrayal of Inspector Morse that he actually stopped writing Morse novels after Thaw’s unfortunate death in 2000. Dexter actually stated in his will that no further adaptations of his Morse works should be made since Thaw is no longer available (the Endeavor series is not included in that statement – Dexter approved the actor as a younger version of Morse, for stories that could be told before he reached the rank of Chief Inspector).