Review: Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter

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Pan, 2013. Inspector Morse: The first three novels: Last Bus to Woodstock, Last Seen Wearing and The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn. Last Seen Wearing was first published in 1976 by Macmillan. Format Kindle Edition (1034 KB). Print Length: 711 pages. ASIN: B00CUGEG16. ISBN: 9781447245209

I submit this review to the meme, Crimes of the Century, hosted by Past Offences. The year under consideration this month is #1976. A year that has a special meaning to me, my daughter was born that year.


Two years, three months and two days after the disappearance of Valerie Taylor, a letter arrived, apparently written by Valerie herself, in which she claims to be fine. She was only a schoolgirl when was last seen getting back to Kidlington’s Roger Bacon Comprehensive School, after having lunch at home with her mother. Inspector Ainley, who had been in charge of this case from the start, has died on a road accident, and inspector Morse has to take over the investigation, reluctantly. Against all evidence that the letter was written by Valerie herself, inspector Morse believes she is dead. His investigation is going to be focus in just a small number of people. Mr Baines, who was, and still is, second master in the school. The current headmaster Mr Phillipson and his wife; although he was appointed after Valerie’s disappearance. David Achum who was Valerie’s French teacher at the last class to which Valerie attended the day she went missing. And Valerie’s parents. It was believed at that time, that Valerie was pregnant and had gone to London for an abortion. Several hypotheses begin to take shape but, everything becomes more confused when Mr Baines appears murdered. 

81M1ZdCsVaL._SL1500_ Last Seen Wearing is the second novel in the series featuring Inspector Morse by Colin Dexter and is the first I’ve read so far. It is an entertaining story, easy to read, and written with a simple and clear style. The characters are nicely crafted and the dialogues are constructed with great detail and much accuracy. If anything, perhaps some questions remain unanswered at the end, but I don’t believe them to be extremely relevant. In essence, it is a really enjoyable detective story. Though not an exceptional novel, I have liked it very much and has been a real pleasure to read it. 

My rating: A (I loved it)

Colin-dexter-last-seen-wearing Colin Dexter was born in Stamford, Lincolnshire in 1930 and was educated at Stamford School. After completing his national service with the Royal Corps of Signals, he read Classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge, graduating in 1953 and has lived in Oxford since 1966. His first novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, was published in 1975. The thirteenth and last novel in the series, The Remorseful Day, was published in 1999 by Macmillan. In 1989 The Wench is Dead was awarded a Gold Dagger by the Crime Writers’ Association for best crime novel of the year, as was The Way Through the Woods in 1992, and Colin Dexter has also been awarded Silver Daggers for Service of all the Dead (1979) and The Dead of Jericho (1981). Death is Now My Neighbour went straight to the top of the bestseller lists on first publication in 1996. In 1997 Colin Dexter was awarded the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding services to crime literature. The Inspector Morse novels have been adapted for the small screen, with huge success, in Carlton/Central Television’s series starring John Thaw and Kevin Whately. In the manner of Alfred Hitchcock, Colin Dexter also makes a cameo appearance in almost all episodes.

I’ve found interesting to share the following excerpt by Christopher Bird on The World of Inspector Morse: A Complete A-Z Reference for the Morse Enthusiast (Boxtree Ltd, 1998):

It is important to remember that Morse’s world is an imaginary construct, that his Oxford is not the ‘real’ Oxford. The worlds of all good novels, however realistic they may seem, are creations. If novelists should fail in this respect, the reader can hardly be expected to share their vision. So although Colin Dexter (like Morse) may live in Oxford, he still has to create Morse’s Oxford. And Morse’s Oxford is, indeed, richly imagined, a fictional territory as rounded and satisfying as Holmes’s gaslit London, Maigret’s Gaulloise-perfumed Paris or the steamy Los Angeles of Philip Marlowe. (Source: Robin Blake)

Last Seen Wearing has been reviewed at The View From The Blue House (Rob) 


In praise of … INSPECTOR MORSE (Tipping my Fedora)

Radio dramatization of Colin Dexter’s, ‘Last Seen Wearing”. 1994

Vista por última vez de Colin Dexter

inspector_morse_2Presento esta reseña al meme, Crímenes del Siglo, organizado por Past Offences. El año que se somete a examen este mes es el 1976. Un año que tiene un significado especial para mí, mi hija nació ese año.

Dos años, tres meses y dos días después de la desaparición de Valerie Taylor, llegó una carta, al parecer escritao por la propia Valerie, en la que afirma estar bien. Ella era sólo una colegiala cuando fue vista por última vez volviendo a la escuela Roger Bacon Comprhensive de Kidlington, después de almorzar en casa con su madre. El inspector Ainley, que había estado a cargo de este caso desde el principio, ha fallecido en un accidente de tráfico, y el inspector Morse tiene que hacerse cargo de la investigación, de mala gana. Contra toda evidencia de que la carta fue escrita por la propia Valerie, el inspector Morse cree que está muerta. Su investigación se va a centrar en tan sólo un pequeño número de personas. El señor Baines, que era, y sigue siendo, el segundo en la escuela. El director actual el señor Phillipson y su mujer, a pesar de que fue nombrado después de la desaparición de Valerie. David Achum que era el profesor de francés de Valerie en la última clase a la que Valerie asistió el día de su desaparición. Y los padres de Valerie. Se creía en ese momento, que Valerie estaba embarazada y había ido a Londres para abortar. Varias hipótesis comienzan a tomar forma, pero, todo se vuelve más confuso cuando el señor Baines aparece asesinado.

Vista por ultima vez es la segunda novela de la serie protagonizada por el inspector Morse de Colin Dexter y es la primera que he leído hasta ahora. Es una historia entretenida, fácil de leer, y escrita con un estilo sencillo y claro. Los personajes están muy bien elaborados y los diálogos están construidos con gran detalle y mucha precisión. En todo caso, tal vez algunas preguntas siguen sin respuesta al final, pero no creo que sean muy relevantes. En esencia, se trata de una historia de detectives realmente agradable. Aunque no es una novela excepcional, me ha gustado mucho y ha sido un verdadero placer leerla.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Colin Dexter nació en Stamford, Lincolnshire en 1930 y fue educado en el Stamford School. Después de completar su servicio militar en el Royal Corps of Signals, estudió a los clásicos en el Christ’s College de Cambridge, donde se graduó en el 1953. Ha vivido en Oxford desde 1966. Su primera novela, Last Bus to Woodstock, fue publicada en 1975. La decimotercera y última novela de la serie, The Remorseful Day, fue publicada en 1999 por Macmillan. En 1989 The Wench is Dead fue galardonada con la Gold Dagger por la CWA a la mejor novela de detectives del año, al igual que The Way Through the Woods  en 1992, y Colin Dexter también ha sido galardonado con Silver Daggers por Service of all the Dead (1979) y The Dead of Jericho (1981). Death is Now My Neighbour encabezó la lista de libros más vendidos cuando se publicó en 1996. En 1997 Colin Dexter fue galardonado con la CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger por sus destacados servicios a la literatura criminal y de misterio. Las novelas del inspector Morse han sido adaptadas a la pequeña pantalla, con gran éxito, en una serie de televisión protagonizada por John Thaw y Kevin Whately. A la manera de Alfred Hitchcock, Colin Dexter también hace un cameo en casi todos los episodios.

He encontrado interesante compartir aquí el siguiente extracto de Christopher Bird en The World of Inspector Morse: A Complete A-Z Reference for the Morse Enthusiast (Boxtree Ltd, 1998):

Es importante recordar que el mundo de Morse es una construcción imaginaria, que su Oxford no es el Oxford “real”. Los mundos de todas las buenas novelas, por más realistas que puedan parecer, son creaciones. Si los novelistas se equivocan en este sentido, el lector difícilmente puede esperar a compartir su visión. Así que, aunque Colin Dexter (como Morse) puede vivir en Oxford, él todavía tiene que crear el Oxford de Morse. Y el Oxford de Morse es, de hecho, un territorio lleno de imaginación, un territorio ficticio tan completo y satisfactorio como el Londres iluminado a gas de Holmes, el Paris perfumado por el olor a Gaulloise de Simenon o el caluroso Los Ángeles de Philip Marlowe. (Mi traducción libre).

Letemendia Casa Editora


15 thoughts on “Review: Last Seen Wearing by Colin Dexter

  1. Great Review: I love Colin Dexter’s Morse series, especially as he was one of the first authors to get me hooked on crime – there is something seductive about his writing, and I love that these felt more intelligent than other’s around at the time.

  2. Glad you liked this one Jose Igancio – the TV adaptation starrign John Thaw is quite radical in the changes it it makes (including the identity of the murderer) but is, i think, very good all the same.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever read one of this series. I somehow never came across them before seeing the TV movies with John Thaw and I’ve been reluctant to read them since as I feel I’ll have too much of the TV show in my head (always better to get to the books first I think). But I should give Dexter a go – wish I had done so for this month’s book instead of the one I did read (or start reading)

    1. I can see how you feel Bernadette, but anyway hope you’ll enjoy the Morse series, this one is particularly good and you don’t have to worry much about having seen the TV series, the ending is quite different in this book, so I’ve been told.

  4. I liked this one. I read it when it was relatively new, and there was no particular fuss about the books – no TV series, no John Thaw, no-one making great claims for a quiet low-key procedural. Things changed a lot…

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