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The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn by Colin…

The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (1977)

by Colin Dexter

Series: Morse (3)

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This Inspector Morse installment was a vast improvement over the previous one, and I suspect the novels will continue to get better in both plot and characterization. Morse is still trying to ply his assistant Lewis with beer and sherry and excursions to a few blue movies, but it's not without its critique, as Lewis notes that Morse can be needlessly crude at times. It is 1977 Oxford after all, where sexism is both a town and gown preoccupation. ( )
  Virginia-A | Dec 21, 2016 |
The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn by Colin Dexter is part of the Inspector Morse books, a series that I hadn’t read in some time. This particular book was originally published in 1977 and it’s style is reminds one of detective stories written in the 1940s and 50s. The reader is not privy to the inner workings of Inspector Morse’s mind, we are rather his audience that he plays to, announcing the murderer and his methods at the end of the book. We also learn very little of his private life away from the actual job of detecting.

Set in the university town of Oxford, this case deals with the Foreign Examination Board and the murder of one it’s appointees. Somehow, Morse decides that the murderer must be one of the small group of people who work there, and so most of the book is about this small academic organization. Along the way there is a secondary murder, and the book is rife with red herrings and a few twists to keep the reader guessing.

Personally, I am not sure whether I will continue with this series, I didn’t find Morse particularly likeable or sympathetic. The story was very well written, but some of the very characteristics that I enjoy in the Inspector Frost books by R.D. Wingfield, I found intolerable here. I missed the tongue-in-cheek humor which helps to offset the rudeness and arrogance. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 10, 2016 |
Re-reading the Morse books in order, the reader is conscious of a definite datedness not only to the style, but to the portrayal of the characters of both Morse and his long-suffering foil, Sergeant Lewis. It is odd to think that these books were the genesis of the popular ITV series and all that has come after it. Despite, for example, the jackets of these American editions (republished at the end of the 80s to coincide with the original broadcasts of the John Thaw / Kevin Whately adaptions show on PBS "Mystery!") proclaiming Morse's fondness for T.S. Eliot and classical music, very little of either are evident in the first three books (and as far as I recall, Eliot never gets a mention, making him as a choice of poets somewhat odd - too modern for Morse's taste?).

So the books are different from the television adaptations. What is the same is that Morse is a difficult character to like, yet he often, through the sympathetic views of others, is made to feel likable. While these three books are very definitely products of the 1970s, the broadcast series from the 1980s has a particular light, a particular sense of Oxford that the books simply don't convey. Less of the dreaming spires, more of the grotty estates and vulgar motorways. It is as though Dexter took Oxford as read (which no doubt he did), but forgot that the reader might live further afield than Abingdon.

If you come to Nicholas Quinn's untimely demise via the television series, you will find the details changed, somewhat. Some extraneous and seemingly unnecessary red herrings in the book were excised from the filmed version, and the narrative considerably tightened up. My favourite line in the programme, "...Americans... they spell "honour" "h-o-n-o-r"," spoken by the head of the Syndicate, is sadly absent, but some of the dialogue is almost word-for-word identical to the transmitted version. Several men are described as "bearded", a vile fashion of the time which has regrettably resurged. Oh, and the film showing at the theatre has been changed, to the apparently fictive "Nymphomanic". Dexter's imagination seems somewhat more salacious, perhaps as a product of the time?

Reading through the first books, it occurs to me that I haven't really *enjoyed* any of the first three thus far. It has been something that I've read more as a student, in an almost archaeological search for the difference between printed and filmed versions. That isn't to say that as books they're not worth reading, but they perhaps demonstrate how high the standard of the broadcast programme really was. If you can empty your mind of the baggage of Thaw's characterization (and excellent baggage it is), you may enjoy these books somewhat more, but I cannot see anyone being genuinely entranced by them. ( )
  Bill_Bibliomane | May 25, 2015 |
My favorite of the three Morse books. On the whole, I really like the series. Morse comes across as a real person, making mistakes in deductions, jumping to conclusions, and so forth. The plots are pretty convoluted, but these are not the kind of mystery novels where the reader tries to figure it out before Morse. These are about how Morse goes about it, and about the characters involved.

I will definitely read more of the Inspector in the future. ( )
  Hanneri | Dec 8, 2014 |
The plot is overly complex.
  danhammang | Nov 7, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330254243, Paperback)

Chief Inspector Morse is called in to investigate the murder of an Oxford academic, and finds the dons in uproar. The code of integrity had been breached and Quinn's death was not a matter of how and why but when.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:14 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Murdered in his North Oxford home, newly appointed member of the Oxford Examinations Syndicate, Nicholas Quinn was deaf, provincial and gifted. As Morse investigates the death he is drawn into a labyrinth world of the Oxford colleges. Originally published: London: Macmillan, 1977.… (more)

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