Two Short Reviews: Coffin Road by Peter May and The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Two more short reviews as I try to catch up on the books I’ve been reading. Both are excellent books, each one with a great sense of location and descriptive writing bringing the scenes and characters vividly to life.

First, Coffin Road by Peter May, is a standalone novel, set on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. I read it because I loved his Lewis trilogy. There are 3 strands to the story. There’s a mystery surrounding a man, washed up during a storm on a deserted beach on the Isle of Harris. He is wearing a life jacket, is battered and bruised – and has no idea who he is or where he is. The only clue to why he is living on Harris is a folded map of a path named the Coffin Road and following the route marked on the map he finds some hidden beehives that are familiar to him. In the second strand DS George Gunn investigates the murder of a bludgeoned corpse discovered on a remote rock twenty miles to west of the Outer Hebrides. And thirdly, a teenage girl in Edinburgh is desperate to discover the truth about her scientist father’s suicide.

It is fast-paced, almost impossible to put down, and full of intrigue and mystery. Each strand of the story kept me guessing, wondering what the connections between them were. It’s tense with the sense that time is running out for all the characters and I wasn’t sure whether any of them were reliable narrators or were who they appeared to be.

In addition the bees have a major role in the story. All the facts about the bees slot seamlessly into the story and I learned quite a lot about bees that I didn’t know before, especially their role in climate change.

The Wonder is a very strange story. It’s uncomfortable reading, but I felt I just had to read it. And although it moves at a slow pace I read it quickly in large chunks. It is tense, full of atmosphere and just like Coffin Road, I found it almost impossible to put it down, such is the power of Emma Donoghue’s storytelling.

The plot is simple: it is set in a small village in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s. Eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell stops eating, but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse, Lib Wright, trained in the Crimea by Florence Nightingale, and a nun, Sister Michael are hired by a committee of influential locals to spend two weeks observing her to make sure she is not being fed secretly.

Lib observes Anna in scrupulous detail, noting Anna’s symptoms. At first she seems a healthy little girl but as the two weeks go by she develops worrying symptoms – downy cheeks, scaly skin, blue fingertips, and swollen lower limbs and hands. Lib begins to realise that it is not just a question of how Anna is managing to exist without food, but also why. What is motivating Anna to persist in saying she is not hungry and doesn’t need to eat? The answer seems to lie in her religious beliefs, and maybe religious hysteria is playing a part as well as the clash between medical science and faith. But is there more to it? Lib wonders about the family’s relationships and the effect of Anna’s brother’s death just a few months before Anna stopped eating.

As Donoghue explains in her author’s note The Wonder is an invented story, inspired by almost fifty cases of so-called Fasting Girls in the British Isles, Western Europe and North America between the 16th and 20th centuries. A film of the book is available on Netflix, but I don’t think I could bear to watch it.

The Island by Victoria Hislop: A Short Post

I have been struggling to write posts recently. I haven’t been able to settle down to writing after finishing a book, either because I’m too eager to read the next book, or like Heavenali I’ve been so distracted and mithered by other things going on in my life, mostly minor that shouldn’t really bother me, but do, that I am finding it hard to concentrate on writing.

So, that is why I haven’t written about a number of books I read earlier this year. Some of them are books that qualify for the Wanderlust Bingo CardThe Island by Victoria Hislop, The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien, The Night of the Mi’raj by Zoë Ferraris and Coffin Road by Peter May. These aren’t the only books I’ve read that need to write about, but it’s a start.

The first one I’m writing about is The Island by Victoria Hislop, her debut novel and one of my TBRs. It’s been on my bookshelves for years and I did start reading it soon after buying it, but I didn’t get very far and put it back on my bookshelves. Since then I’ve read three other books by Victoria Hislop and enjoyed them so I decided to try it again, especially as it fills the Island Square (set in Greece) on the Wanderlust Bingo card. I began reading it in August, when I took it away with me, visiting family, but didn’t find much time to read it and had to set it to one side. After I returned home I went on to read other books until October when I picked it up once more.

It is historical fiction set in Plaka on the island of Crete and in Spinalonga, a tiny, deserted island just off the coast of Plaka. I wasn’t very sure I would like it when I read the first chapter about Alexis Fielding longing to find out about her mother’s past. Sofia had never told her anything about it and all that Alexis knew was that Sofia had grown up in Plaka, a small Cretan village before moving to London. She gave Alexis a letter to take to an old friend, Fotini, promising that through her she will learn more. And once Fotini entered the story I was hooked as she told what had happened to Sophia’s grandmother, Eleni and her daughters, Anna and Maria after Eleni caught leprosy and was sent to live on Spinalonga.

Beginning before the Second World War the story moved between Plaka and Spinalonga and I loved all the details of Elena’s life on Spinalonga, but then when the narrative moved on to describing her daughters’ lives I began to lose interest. Instead of a fascinating historical novel about leprosy it changed into a historical romance, which I didn’t enjoy as much as the earlier part of the book. Overall, I think it’s too long and drawn out, and the ending is a bit too neat. So I’m giving this book 4*, combining 5* for Eleni’s story and 2-5* for both the beginning and the ending.

I’m hoping to write similar short posts for the other three books.

Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Joseph decides to take his mistress and son, together with a few friends, to stay in a cabin in deepest Wales for the weekend – with absolutely disastrous results. Beryl Bainbridge’s gift for deadpan dialogue and spare narrative, and her darkly comic vision of the world, are all in evidence in this early novel.

I read Another Part of the Wood because I’ve enjoyed other books by Beryl Bainbridge. It’s a novella, really, as it’s only 159 pages. I love her style, dark humour with clear, concise prose, and fully realised characters. It was her second book, first published in 1968. She revised the book and reissued it in 1979. My copy is a Fontana edition published in 1980. I read it at this time because it’s the novel that came up for me to read for the latest Classics Club Spin. It’s also one of my TBRs, a book that I’ve owned since 2016.

Like all of Beryl Bainbridge’s books that I’ve read it is well written and makes compulsive reading, with individual, mainly unlikable, characters who are mostly at odds with each other. I enjoyed the oddness, never really knowing what would happen next. The title has a theatrical feeling, pointing out the different scenes in the book as the action switches from one part of the wood to another, with one or more of the characters taking centre stage.

It’s set in Flintshire, Wales, in a holiday camp, which consists of huts in a wood at the foot of a mountain. There is George, the owner of the land, and Balfour who works in a factory during the week and helps him at the weekends. George, is obsessed with the Holocaust and Balfour, a shy, quiet man suffers from some sort of illness – he gets sick very suddenly with a high temperature and the shivers as though he’s turned to ice. All he can do is hide away and sleep it off.

The book begins as George’s friend, Joseph, a selfish, insensitive man, arrives for the weekend from London, with his young son, Roland, his girlfriend Dotty, and Kidney, a fat teenager who apparently has learning disabilities and a health problem (never explained), dependent on his pills. In addition Joseph has invited another couple to join them, Lionel and his wife, May, an unhappy couple with a dysfunctional and argumentative relationship. They are all townies, like fish out of water in the countryside and find the huts claustrophobic and too basic – May refuses to use either the chemical toilet or the bushes.

The atmosphere is tense right from the start and rises throughout the book as their relationships become increasingly fractious. Having promised Roland that he would take him for a walk up the mountain, Joseph leaves him to his own devices. He withholds Kidney’s pills and argues with Dotty. Dotty and Balfour walk off to the village where she buys a coat of many colours and Balfour falls ill. The wood, as in fairy tales, is not a safe place.

The world was a deep deceptive forest, full of promises and little glades and clearings, and in the dark depths roamed the wolves, savage, snapping their great teeth, waiting to spring on those who wandered from the path. (page 73)

There’s a sense of foreboding, the sense that something terrible is about to happen … but what, and who is in danger? I felt that more than one of these characters could come to a sticky end. And I was unsure, fearing the worst for one particular character – and sadly I was right. It was inevitable.

Miss Austen & Godmersham Park by Gill Hornby

In January I read Miss Austen by Gill Hornby, but despite enjoying it I didn’t write about it then. And in September I read Godmersham Park. Both are based on Jane Austen and her relationships with family and friends.

Miss Austen is the untold story of the most important person in Jane’s life – her sister Cassandra. After Jane’s death, Cassandra lived alone and unwed, spending her days visiting friends and relations and quietly, purposefully working to preserve her sister’s reputation. Set in 1840, Cassandra in her ’60s, visits Isabella Fowle following the death of her father, the Reverend Fowle when Isabella is packing up her parents’ belongings so that a new reverend can move in. Cassandra is convinced that her own and Jane’s letters to Eliza Fowle, the mother of Cassandra’s long-dead fiancé, are still somewhere in the vicarage. Eventually she finds the letters and confronts the secrets they hold, secrets not only about Jane but about Cassandra herself. Will Cassandra reveal the most private details of Jane’s life to the world, or commit her sister’s legacy to the flames?

I was surprised by how much i enjoyed this book as I don’t usually like spin-offs, sequels or prequels of my favourite books, but I really enjoyed this book as Cassandra relives her life with Jane, revealing what life was like for spinsters living in the early 1800s. It is different from Jane Austen’s own novels but still manages to recreate that flavour of her novels that I have loved ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice. It’s very well researched, a novel that held my attention from the beginning right to the end. A definite 4.5 star book.

I didn’t enjoy Godmersham Park quite as much as Miss Austen. It is the fictionalised life of Anne Sharp, employed as the governess to Fanny, Jane Austen’s niece. Fanny’s father was Edward Austen, who was adopted by the wealthy Knight family (Thomas Knight was a cousin), taking their name in 1812. Anne became one of Jane’s closest friends.

Little is actually known about Anne as Gill Hornby acknowledges in her Author’s Note. So the story of her early life before her arrival in 1804 at Godmersham Park is a ‘fiction, fashioned out of the biographies of other, contemporary genteel ladies who found themselves working as governesses.’ But the two years she spent working for the Austen family were recorded by Fanny in her diaries and so Gill Hornby has closely followed her account. Henry Austen, Jane’s favourite brother was a regular visitor at Godmersham and Jane, Cassandra and their mother visited too during those two years.

Anne had no experience of teaching, but was left with no alternative as her mother had died and she had to find employment. She found it difficult – treated neither as a servant nor as one of the family, she risked dismissal if she overstepped the mark. Similarly she found that Henry Austen’s attention put her in the most awkward situations. But when Jane visited she was able to relax in her company and the two struck up a friendship.

I can’t quite put my finger on why I find this novel not as good as Miss Austen. But it moves at a slower pace and apart from the mystery that surrounds Anne’s father, I didn’t find it as absorbing – there’s that anticipation in Miss Austen of will Cassandra find the letters and what will they reveal. In parts Godmersham Park came over to me as just a tiny bit flat and I never grew as fond of Anne as I did of Cassandra. Having said that, I did enjoy this book enough to give it 3.5 stars.

The Classics Club Spin Result

The spin number in The Classics Club Spin is number …

which for me is Another Part of the Wood by Beryl Bainbridge. The rules of the Spin are that this is the book for me to read by 30 October 2022.

Synopsis:

In a remote cottage in Wales two urban couples are spending their holiday with the idealistic owner and his protege. The beginning is idyllic but catastrophe lurks behind every tree, and as the holiday continues their relationships start to show their cracks.

I’m so glad this is my spin book as this has been on my TBR list for 6 years. I’ve enjoyed all of Beryl Bainbridge’s books that I’ve read so far and so I’m hoping to love this book.

Did you take part in the Classics Spin? What will you be reading?

White Rose, Black Forest by Eoin Dempsey

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This is the second of several short posts as I try to catch up with writing reviews of books I read earlier this year.

White Forest, Black Rose by Eoin Dempsey is a World War 2 novel which is different from other books set during the War that I’ve read before, told from the perspective of a German who opposed the Nazis. It is set in the Black Forest, Germany in 1943, where Franka Gerber is living alone in an isolated cabin, having returned to her home town of Freiburg after serving a prison sentence for anti-Nazi activities.

It is December and the Forest is blanketed in deep snow when she discovers an unconscious airman lying in the snow wearing a Luftwaffe uniform, his parachute flapping in the wind. Taking him back to the cabin she saves his life, but whilst he is unconscious she hears him speak in English and so it seems that he is not who she first thought he was. Both his legs are broken and, having been a nurse, Franka is able to set the bones, and tries to discover his true identity. Trapped in the cabin they both gradually reveal details of their past lives and learn to trust each other.

It is a tense, claustrophobic novel and as soon as he is able to walk they decide to leave the cabin and so begins a race against time, as they are hunted by the Gestapo. Can they trust each other enough to join forces on a mission that could change the face of the war and their own lives forever?

White Rose, Black Forest is a novel inspired by true events, although the author doesn’t clarify what is fact and what is fiction. I enjoyed it, especially the historical aspects. The White Rose movement in Germany was a non-violent intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, who conducted an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi regime.

It slots into the Forest box in the Wanderlust Bingo card and is also one of my TBRs, a book I’ve owned since 2018.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Once more I’m behind with reviews of some of the books I’ve read in June, July and August, so this is the first of several short posts as I try to catch up with writing reviews.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved State of Wonder by Ann Patchett!

After a slow start I began to realise that this was a book I was really going to enjoy. In some ways it is similar to Heart of Darkness by Graham Greene, but set in the Brazilian jungle along the Rio Negro instead of the Belgian Congo in Africa. It slots into the River box in the Wanderlust Bingo card. It is also one of my TBRs, a book I’ve owned since 2015 and so qualifies for the Mount TBR Challenge.

Dr. Annick Swenson, a research scientist, is developing a drug that could alter the lives of women forever. But she refuses to report on her progress, especially to her investors, whose patience is fast running out. Anders Eckman, a lab researcher, is sent to investigate. When Dr. Swenson reported that Anders had died of a fever in a remote part of the jungle, Dr. Marina Singh, a former student of Dr. Swenson, is sent to find out what has happened to him.

From that point onwards it gets more and more complicated. First of all it’s very difficult for her to meet Dr. Swenson, and when she does eventually reach her there are all the dangers of the rain forest to deal with, including deadly snakes, hundreds of insects, mysterious natives and exotic diseases plus the intense heat. There are also secrets and lies that are only gradually revealed.

The novel raises questions about the morality and ethics of research into the use of extreme fertility treatments and drug studies in general, along with the exploitation of native populations. It is wonderfully descriptive and I could easily imagine that I was there in the jungle, experiencing the oppressive heat and humidity. I found it all fascinating and I was totally absorbed in the story.

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

Quercus| 4 February 2021|e-book| Print Length 321 pages| My own copy| 4*

Synopsis:

Dr Ruth Galloway returns to the moody and beautiful landscape of North Norfolk to confront another killer. A devastating new case for our favourite forensic archaeologist in this acclaimed and bestselling crime series.

The Night Hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach in North Norfolk. At first Nelson thinks that the dead man might be an asylum seeker but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison. Ruth is more interested in the treasure, a hoard of Bronze Age weapons. Nelson at first thinks that Taylor’s death is accidental drowning, but a second death suggests murder.

Nelson is called to an apparent murder-suicide of a couple at the isolated Black Dog Farm. Local legend talks of the Black Shuck, a spectral hound that appears to people before they die. Nelson ignores this, even when the owner’s suicide note includes the line, ‘He’s buried in the garden.’ Ruth excavates and finds the body of a giant dog.

All roads lead back to this farm in the middle of nowhere, but the place spells serious danger for anyone who goes near. Ruth doesn’t scare easily. Not until she finds herself at Black Dog Farm …

My thoughts:

The Night Hawks is the 13th book in the Dr Ruth Galloway books. I’ve enjoyed the earlier books, despite the fact that they are written in the present tense. But it’s been a while since I last read one, 5 years to be precise and I’ve missed a few of them as the last one I read was the 9th book, The Chalk Pit.

So, Ruth’s life has moved on the three books I haven’t read! There is a Who’s Who of the main characters at the end of the book giving their backstories which helps if you haven’t read the earlier books, and reminded me of who they all are and their relationships.

Ruth, the central character, is now Head of the Department of Archaeology at her old university, the fictional University of North Norfolk, having been promoted after the retirement of her old boss, Phil Trent. Her replacement as the archaeology lecturer is David Brown, who Ruth finds annoying. She doesn’t really know why as they have the same academic speciality, the prehistoric era, particularly as that is partly why she employed him to teach the courses that she used to teach. She is also a special advisor to the north Norfolk police.

Her complicated relationship with Detective Chief Inspector Nelson, the father of her daughter, Kate, now ten years old, continues in this book. Nelson thinks of himself as an old-fashioned policeman. But Superintendent Jo Archer is keen to bring the force into the twenty-first century and wants him to retire. He dismisses that idea, maintaining that the police force needs his experience and know-how. He has no plans to retire and avoids talking to her whenever he can.

A body is found on the beach at Blakeney Point, a young man who Nelson guesses is an illegal immigrant, an asylum seeker, and then a skeleton, buried in a mound of what appears to be Bronze Age weapons, discovered by the group known as the Night Hawks when they were searching for buried treasure.

The police are also investigating what at first appears to be a case of murder-suicide at Black Dog Farm, an isolated farm said to be haunted by the Black Shuck. Shuck is the name given to an East Anglian ghostly black dog that is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia, a large, shaggy dog said to be an omen of death. And there had been quite a few sightings of such a dog near Black Dog Farm.

I was thoroughly entertained by this mystery, glad to get re-acquainted with Ruth, her family and her friends and colleagues. There is a really strong sense of place, so much so that I could easily visualise the scenes and gain a sense of what it’s like to be there at the beach, with the shingle and the sand dunes at Blakeney Point and the north Norfolk countryside.

I hope to read books I’ve missed, namely The Dark Angel, The Stone Circle and The Lantern Men, before too long, and then the 14th in the series, The Locked Room.

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

Rating: 4 out of 5.

First published in 1950 A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute is one of those books I’ve been meaning to read for years and now I have at last read it. It was not quite what I had imagined it to be, about Alice Springs in Australia. It is actually set in three parts, with just the third part set in Australia, not in Alice Springs but in Willstown, a fictional town in the outback.

Narrated by Noel Strachan, a solicitor, this is the story of Jean Paget. It begins a few years after the Second World War, when he tells her she has inherited a considerable sum of money from her uncle. But it is held in trust until she reaches the age of thirty five. Until then she will receive about £900 a year to spend. She wonders what to do with the money and eventually decides she wants to go back to Malaya, where she had been a prisoner of war, to dig a well. She tells Noel about what had happened to her in Malaya.

The second part is about that time in Malaya during the War at the time when the Japanese invaded the island. Jean and a group of European women and children were forced by the Japanese to walk for hundreds of miles from place to place before finally managing to stay in one village. Able to speak Malay and being courageous and resourceful, she takes on the role of the leader of their group. She met an Australian soldier, Sergeant Joe Harman, also a prisoner, who was driving a lorry for the Japanese and they became friends with disastrous consequences. This section is the best in the book to my mind.

On her return after the War she writes to Noel telling him how she set about organising the villagers to dig the well so that the women would have fresh water close to their houses and also build a washing-house. And it is here that she learns more about what had happened to Joe and decides to carry on travelling to Australia to find him and thank him for the help he had given her and the other women.

The third part is set in Australia. Jean is an organiser and on her arrival in Willstown she discovers that this is a place where the young women leave as soon as they are old enough. There are no jobs or entertainment to keep them there. So Jean decides she wants to make the town into a town just like Alice Springs. And she does this with remarkable success building a workshop for the girls to make shoes and handbags, providing an ice cream parlour and a public swimming pool and shops. At the same time her search for Joe is eventually successful. She continues writing to Noel about her life in the Australian outback, letters full of detail about her enterprises and the difficulties of cattle ranching in such isolated places – a bit too much detail for me really. But the episode where Jean helped in rescuing an injured stockman is full of drama.

This is really just the bare bones of the story – there is so much more to it than that. Others have commented on the casual racism in the book. It tells it as it was, how people lived at the time, and reflects the attitudes that people had. Jean is of course the main character, a woman somewhat ahead of her time with great strength of character, determination and entrepreneurial skills. The resourcefulness she showed in Malaya is developed in Australia.

In his Author’s Note Shute explains that the forced march during WW2 took place in Sumatra and not in Malaya and the women in the group were Dutch and not British. As in his novel, the local Japanese commander was reluctant to assume responsibility for these women and, to solve his problem, marched them out of his area and took them on a trek all around Sumatra that lasted for two and a half years.

Jean Paget was based on Mrs Geysel, whom Shute had met when he visited Sumatra in 1949. She had been one of the Dutch party, then aged 21, recently married and with a young baby she had carried for over twelve hundred miles around Sumatra. A remarkable story that I really enjoyed.

The Riddle of the Third Mile by Colin Dexter

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Pan| February 2011| 289 pages| e-book| 5*

From the Back Cover

Inspector Morse isn’t sure what to make of the truncated body found dumped in the Oxford Canal, but he suspects it may be all that’s left of an elderly Oxford don last seen boarding the London train several days before. Whatever the truth, the inspector knows it won’t be simple — it never is. As he retraces Professor Browne-Smith’s route through a London netherworld of topless bars and fancy bordellos, his forebodings are fulfilled. The evidence mounts; so do the bodies. So Morse downs another pint, unleashes his pit bull instincts, and solves a mystery that defies all logic. 

My thoughts

The Riddle of the Third Mile is Colin Dexter’s 6th book in his Inspector Morse series, first published in 1983. I remember watching the TV adaptation based on this book, The Last Enemy, but, as with most TV adaptations, it has several changes from the original. Like all of Dexter’s books this is a most complicated mystery, one of the ‘puzzle’ types. Dexter, himself, constructed crossword puzzles and made Morse a crossword aficionado. I agree with Sergeant Lewis when he asks Morse: ‘Aren’t you making it all a bit too complicated?‘ (page 145). I enjoyed trying to follow all the clues that Dexter planted in the mystery, although I had little idea about most of it. But I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The identity of the dismembered and headless corpse could have been that of Morse’s his old classics tutor, Browne-Smith or Browne-Smith’s hated rival, Westerby, or even one of the Gilbert twins who both harboured a grudge against Browne-Smith dating back to the Second World War. Or one of the twins could have been the murderer. Morse eventually works it out, by various means, including considering ‘the most improbable notions, in the sure certainty that by the law of averages some of them stood a more reasonable chance of being near to the truth than others.’ ( page 145) He’s also helped by his intuition, when a passage of scripture springs to his mind about forgiving one’s enemies: ‘ And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain (Matthew 14.1)’ which he checks in a Gideon Bible, and letting his mind ponder this he remembers a sermon he had heard on the ‘Religion of the Second Mile’:

And it was with the forty-watt bulb shedding its feeble light over the Gideon Bible that Morse smiled to himself in unspeakable joy, like one who has travelled on a longer journey still – that third and final mile …

At last he knew the truth. (page 220)

I can’t say I was also enlightened, and so I just had to read on to find out what Morse had managed to deduce.

Along with the mystery details of Morse’s earlier life when he was a student at St John’s College, Oxford are revealed. He had failed the classics degree, known as ‘Greats’, after his love affair with a postgraduate student at St Hilda’s, Wendy Spencer, came to an end. It had had a disastrous effect on his academic work.

… he departed from Oxford, a withdrawn and silent young man, bitterly belittled, yet not completely broken in spirit. It had been his sadly disappointed old father, a month or so before his death, who suggested that his only son might find a niche somewhere in the police force. (page 61)

I’ve now read 9 of the 13 Morse books:

1. Last Bus to Woodstock (1975) – read in October 2020 not reviewed
2. Last Seen Wearing (1976)
3. The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn (1977)
4. Service of All the Dead (1979)
5. The Dead of Jericho (1981)
6. The Riddle of the Third Mile (1983)
7. The Secret of Annexe 3 (1986)
8. The Wench Is Dead (1989)
9. The Jewel That Was Ours (1991)
10. The Way Through the Woods (1992)
11. The Daughters of Cain (1994)
12. Death Is Now My Neighbour (1996)
13. The Remorseful Day (1999)

Inspector Morse: A Mysterious Profile by Colin Dexter is also available, published as one of the Mysterious Profiles series of 26 books.

Synopsis:

The international-bestselling author answers readers’ questions and discusses the origins of the Oxford inspector with a penchant for classical music.

In 1975, Inspector Morse debuted, working to solve the case of a murdered hitchhiker in Colin Dexter’s Last Bus to Woodstock. The book led to a multimillion-bestselling mystery series and a television show that spawned a spinoff and a prequel. But how did the beloved DCI from Oxford come to be exactly?

In this quick read, Colin Dexter addresses some of the many questions posed to him by his readers. He reveals what motived him to break into crime writing and which authors and novels influenced him. He discusses Morse’s many traits and inner workings, as well as how he got his first Morse novel published. He also shares how he maintains a discipline with writing, how he deals with critics, and what it’s like to transform a series of novels into a television series.