Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Book 66 of 2012: Last Bus To Woodstock

I've gotten more than a little bit behind on my book reviews recently (especially considering that I read this one between the 26th and 29th of August). So this is my attempt to get caught back up. Last Bus To Woodstock by Colin Dexter is the first of the Inspector Morse books and sees Morse and Lewis investigating the murder of a girl who is found in a pub carpark having been raped and beaten. There's the mystery of who she was with on the night that she was murdered which they have to figure out first before they can find out what happened to her.

This was the first of these books that I've read. I bought them for Mr Click from a charity shop when I was down south (they had about two and a half sets of the Colin Dexter books and the ones in the box that I got him were all jumbled up with doubles and some missing so I sat on the floor for about twenty minutes sorting them all out so he'd have a complete set). At the time he'd just read the Sherlock Holmes stories and I thought that these would appeal to him as he was a fan of the TV series and it would be a more modern sort of story, but still in a similar vein to what he'd been reading. It took him a little while to get round to it, mainly because he's been reading the complete Conan Doyle back catalogue, along with anything else Sherlock Holmes shaped. But as he'd started reading them, I figured that it was time for me to give them a go as well.

I really liked the writing style of this one. It's kind of what I was expecting, it was nice and simple and easy to follow. Generally the crime books I read are Lynda La Plante or Kathy Reichs, so I wonder if the fact that the author was male made a difference. Despite the fairly heavy content (a young woman being murdered doesn't exactly make for a light read), it was quite easy going, with short chapters, so I got through it very quickly.

As the story is set in the 1970s, the methods of investigation are somewhat different. It's something I've enjoyed when I've been rereading the Kathy Reichs books; watching technology play a bigger part in the investigations. In Last Bus To Woodstock there's no googling the suspect, or calling Lewis on a mobile phone. It actually took me a couple of chapters to adjust because I kept on forgetting that this wasn't taking place in the here and now. At first it was a bit jarring, like when I was watching The Sweeney with Mr Click one day and they had to run to a public phone box to call in help, but once I got into it was kind of like reading an historical novel and crime story in one.

One thing I like to do when I'm reading a crime story is try to solve the crime as I go along, which I struggled to do with this because it seemed as though Morse made some pretty big leaps in terms of solving the case. At one point he tried to narrow down the suspects by guessing how many people were in the town, how many were male, how many drove a red car, in order to work out who their suspect was. I think the point was that he was solving things in a way that was slightly beyond the book, but it did make it tricky to work it out for yourself as well.

On the whole, I did enjoy it though. And I did like the way it all came together in the end. At the moment Mr Click is just reading the second one in the series (Last Seen Wearing) so I'll move onto that one when he'd done. We're talking about watching the TV series at some point as well, which'll be good; I started watching it many years ago and got a fair chunk of the way through it before we got side-tracked - I enjoyed playing 'spot the really young actor/actress'. It'll be a while until then though, so I'll just read the books until we get to that point.

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