Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Review of Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter (Pan, 1976)
There are two elements that raise Last Seen Wearing above usual police procedural fare. The first is the plotting and the second the characterization. Dexter maps out a wonderfully constructed story of feints and blind alleys as Morse stumbles from one line of reasoning to another, his theories constantly dashed on the rocks of empirical evidence. Every time it appears he has found a path forward, it turns into a cul-de-sac. This is not a tale of a genius cop who always finds his quarry, but is rather more Clouseau in his bumbling, much to Lewis’ delight. Morse and Lewis are both well drawn, somewhat complex and paradoxical characters. Morse, for example, is both cultured and coarse, buying the Sunday Times and the News of the World as his Sunday papers and dragging Lewis into a strip club on a visit to London. The support cast of suspects were also nicely realised. As always, Oxford and its surrounds provide a scenic backdrop. Overall, a very enjoyable read.