My mother is a massive fan of the Inspector Morse television series and was delighted to hear I was reading Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse Last Bus to Woodstock. Mum visited Oxford while in England some time ago and until now, I thought that had been an ordinary day out, never realising that the Oxford excursion had been meticulously planned to indulge Mum’s penchant for Inspector Morse and his sidekick, Lewis. (As an aside, well done to the organisers of the expedition, who found themselves at the top of Mum’s ‘favourites’ list).
Last Bus to Woodstock is the first novel in the Inspector Morse series and is set in the 1970’s. The story begins with a couple of girls hitch hiking to Woodstock on a summer evening. One of the girls is found murdered later that evening in the car park of a pub.
Hard drinking, middle aged Inspector Morse enters the scene and with the help of Sergeant Lewis, sets about working out exactly what happened to the victim. Everyone from the bus driver, to the girls’ workmates, people in the pub and teaching staff around Oxford are potential suspects. Inspector Morse is clearly the brains of the organisation, but Mum told me that after the death of Inspector Morse (and the actor who played the character), Lewis now has his own television series.
I found Last Bus to Woodstock to be a little dated, with the characters very much of their times. The girls wear mini-skirts and no bras and defer to men in a way that I find laughable, while the men are lords and masters of all they survey. All of the teaching staff at Oxford were having affairs. I felt as if the author really enjoyed writing about the swinging times, much in the way that I like to read about other people’s adventures but not actually have them myself.
Inspector Morse had an eye for a pretty girl too and is surprisingly attractive to women.
The story itself was good. I worked out what had happened slightly before Inspector Morse told all, but didn’t have a clue earlier in the book. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I find myself sitting up on the couch sometime with Mum watching an episode of the Inspector Morse television series with her, as she points out the places she visited in Oxford.