by Colin Dexter
Of all the fictional modern detectives – Dalgliesh, Wallander, Delaware, Bosch, Spenser, et al. – Dexter’s Inspector Morse remains my favorite. I suppose it has to do with identification. Morse’s age, single status, and affinity for beer, crossword puzzles, and attractive women all strike chords with me. But I also respond to Morse’s fallibility and am amused by his relationship with his long-suffering colleague, hangdog Sgt. Lewis. Having said all that, Service of All the Dead is not one of Dexter’s better efforts.
The plot resolution is much too convoluted; Agatha Christie trod similar terrain in Murder on the Orient Express, but Christie’s multiply-motivated murderers were more convincing. And parts of this book are oddly dated. Dexter, for example, seemed to think homosexuality is synonymous with pedophilia. But the author’s strengths are all here: that wonderful British vocabulary and, above all, Morse himself.
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