Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Last Bus to Woodstock


By Colin Dexter

Another book by a man who has two names that are first names. He joins a list of such luminaries that are too numerous to mention. He follows, what many see as a tough act to follow in the crime novel stakes. ACD may not have originated the detective genre but he typifies it oh so many ways.

He created the detective with silly first name and some kind of addiction coupled with the partner who asks all the questions we want to hear. Where the two differ is in their choice of narrator, for ACD, we have Watson, dear old Watson. For Col, we get a general third person type.

Now this difference is for me what makes the two so very different. As mentioned in my previous blogule, I love the use of Watson, he makes the Holmes books for me. His little biases and everything make the books that little more human. Reading this I felt more reviewed from the story. I never felt the way about Morse and Lewis the way I did about Holmes and Watson. I cared for the two Victorians, here I felt less love for the two characters. At times it was more frustration than affection. Morse just seemed too much of a clich├ęd old school detective. Hard drinking, slightly lecherous. Like Gene Hunt but without the one liners. So here, the detached nature of a third person narrator didn't sell the book for me.

This isn't to say that the book is terrible. Oh no far from it! Yes the book is flawed, it's a first novel, one expects it. The characters are still fairly rough. Anyway, these points aside. The book itself is quite good for a crime novel. Plenty of the usual twists and turns in the plot, which as everyone knows is how you do a crime novel. The scene setting that The Dex employs is nice and vivid, not being familiar with the area around Oxford I could picture it all well enough. So for imagery, plot and characters The Dex does well. Now for some people that may be enough but for me personally, there has to be some heart and I just didn't get it with this.

1 comment:

  1. interesting. i wonder if the 'heart' develops more over the series? because i think the John Thaw TV versions have it. either the books improve (this was, as you say, his first novel. we know what they're like) or whoever adapted them to TV did a great job.

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