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Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter

Last Bus to Woodstock (original 1975; edition 1996)

by Colin Dexter

Series: Morse (1)

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917279,569 (3.54)55
Title:Last Bus to Woodstock
Authors:Colin Dexter
Info:Ivy Books (1996), Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter (1975)



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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
My mum watched a program on tv called Inspector Morse, a few years ago (I don't know when it was released). It's plot was based on the novels of the same name by Colin Dexter. My mum really enjoyed this program, so when she spotted the whole Inspector Morse collection for only a tenner on thebookpeople.com, she insisted I bought it (its only £5 now, if you're interested!). I am a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, so I hoped it would be of the same vein.

Alas it wasn't, where Sherlock is witty and sharp, Morse is rude and vulgar.

The plot in this novel is about a girl who is murdered one evening after hitchhiking a ride home with her friend. Morse spends a lot of time telling anyone who will listen that he knows who did it, and then being proven wrong. He treats the Sergeant, who he is working on the case with like dirt, and feels attracted to nearly every woman he interviews during the investigation.

The plotline itself wasn't that bad, Dexter kept you guessing as to who did it, with their being suspicion lingering around everyone. I do feel that a flaw in the plot was all the characters that Dexter kept introducing, there became so many that I struggled to keep track of who was who.

The major thing in this novel that I disliked was the characters, mainly Morse himself. To me he seemed quite old in this novel, late 50s in my mind, and he spent a good chunk of the novel flirting with, or going on dates with various suspects in the case. This jarred with me, as I really expect an Inspector to keep within certain boundaries when investigating a crime. Maybe this is just me being weird, but it felt wrong with me.

Apart from being a bit sleezy, Morse was also incredibly cocky, and childish, he would fly into terribly childish tantrums if things weren't going well.

The other characters weren't bad, but weren't really memorable at all. A few characters meet a rather sad and unfortunate end, which I won't mention just in case I spoil it for you. Also I didn't guess who had done it, so it was nice to be surprised at the end.

Overall I gave this novel 3/5, and I will pick up the next in the series (only because I own the whole series!) but I would be reluctant to recommend this as a mystery novel that anyone would enjoy. Maybe it was wrong of me to draw comparisons between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Morse, as they are completely different. Maybe I was being to harsh on Morse, maybe it is better than I think, I guess you will have to read it to find out. In my mind, nobody can reach the writing masterpieces of Conan Doyle anyway! ( )
  ACascadeofBooks | Oct 5, 2016 |
The first book in the series that brought us the great television series starring John Thaw as the irascible yet brilliant Inspector Morse, a spin-off with Inspector Lewis and a prequel series, Endeavour, leaves me, well, underwhelmed. As a police procedural it is okay but not something that will remain long in my memory. To its credit, the plot was sufficiently complex to keep me guessing, incorrectly, until the very end.

I expected Morse to be quirky yet brilliant. I guess he was that but there were times when I was tempted to replace the word quirky with something more along the lines of unhinged.

What struck me, and other readers that I talked to, most about the book is that Dexter's treatment of gender issues is far from enlightened. Granted, it was written in the 1970s but I came of age back then and I don't remember the people I encountered being quite so -neanderthal - as the characters in this book are. Their thoughts about rape are frightening and the old idea that women who act or dress in a certain manner deserve what they get is, if not said outright, at least inferred more than once. One can make certain allowances for when a book was written but there are limits.

And if all that isn't enough, Morse doesn't even drive his signature burgundy Jaguar! He drives a beat-up old Lancia, whatever the heck that is.

I'm not sure at this point if I will read more Morse books. If I do, I will probably skip forward to a point where Collins writing, and Morse's character, are better developed.

My thanks to M.L. and the The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group at Goodreads for creating the opportunity to read and discuss this book with other readers. ( )
  Unkletom | Sep 2, 2016 |
Mamma mio come mi è piaciuto! E' il primo libro che leggo di questa serie e penso proprio che andrò avanti.
Morse un po' scorbutico, un po' sfortunato, un po' bizzarro con la sua fissa per l'ortografia mi è proprio simpatico, Lewis che sopporta le sue bizze pure. L'ambientazione negli anni '70 mi ha fatto riscoprire il gusto per un poliziesco in cui quello che conta sono gli umani: buoni cattivi intelligenti o stupidi, investigatori vittime colpevoli, sono gli uomini e le donne che costruiscono vite e storie, e sono gli uomini Morse e Lewis risolvono il caso.
Bello, lo consiglio vivamente. ( )
  LdiBi | Oct 24, 2015 |
Good enough for this kind of genre thing. People were reading it because they saw a TV version but I just read it because other people were reading it. Though perfectly fine of its type, I don't know why people have to make a big deal over it. Maybe if I read more Inspector Morse I'd get into it more. ( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
As mentioned elsewhere, the first of Dexter's books, which introduces Thames Valley's Chief Inspector Morse and his long-suffering Sergeant, Lewis. Careful readers will find much to enjoy here, but Last Bus to Woodstock is clearly a first novel, rather than a third or a fifth or tenth.

Certainly, there are many dated elements to the book. Remember 1975? I do, but only just. But here is where knowledge of the television production won't really help you, as it changed some fundamentals of the books (arguably for the better), and was first made a full decade later (though it could be said that the 1980s themselves are now another country). Culture has moved on, attitudes have - in some cases - matured and improved, the world has moved on, the Royal Mail, the NHS, and even policing have changed. Some readers may not be able to see beyond this, but knowing what is to come in the series, that will very much be their loss. That being said, this is a novel from the mid-1970s. Don't expect the world to look like forty years later, but rather be pleased that it has moved on at all, and you will still find Morse enigmatic, irritating, and sometimes even off-putting. But the core of the story, the mercurial relationship between Morse and Lewis, Morse's tendency to leap to the wrong conclusions and simultaneously make questionable decisions with regards to female suspects... that's all here. Personally, I suspect that the character's flawed "human, all too human" weaknesses, especially as portrayed by John Thaw, are much of the stories' attractiveness.

This story is more meticulously plotted than many of the later Morse novels, with a number of red herrings. It varies significantly from the eventual television adaptation, so again, readers who know the ITV series will be kept guessing - especially by the character who wasn't even shown on telly, but proves central to the novel. There are many other minor details, including the fact that Morse drives a Lancia, rather than the eventual televisual Jag (which would even make the cover of several early 90s novels), which will keep the interested reader wondering at what in blazes is going on.

It's not a perfect book, but well worth a read for fans of the series. ( )
  Bill_Bibliomane | Apr 18, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Colin Dexterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Borgen, KarinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hammer, Marie S.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Have, GerdTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Let's wait just a bit longer, please," said the girl in dark-blue trousers and the light summer coat.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0804114900, Mass Market Paperback)

"[Morse is] the most prickly, conceited, and genuinely brilliant detective since Hercule Poirot."
--The New York Times Book Review
HIM. . . . Viewers who have enjoyed British actor John Thaw as Morse in the PBS Mystery! anthology series should welcome the deeper character development in Dexter's novels."
--Chicago Sun-Times

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.
"Few novelists write books as intelligent and deliciously frightening as those by Colin Dexter. . . . What Mr. Dexter does so well, so brilliantly, is weave a thick, cerebral story chock-full of literary references and clever red herrings."
--The Washington Times
--Publishers Weekly

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:13 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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