Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Book 24 of 2014: The Dead of Jericho by Colin Dexter

Normally I read Mr Click’s books after he’s read them. It’s like there’s something sacred about a book that belongs to someone else and you shouldn’t let anyone else read it until you’ve read it first, otherwise whatever magic is in it might go to the other person instead of you. I realise that sounds kind of weird, but if you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time you’re probably already aware that I’m a bit strange.

I’ve mentioned before that I picked up the complete set of Colin Dexter books for Mr Click a few years ago and since then he’s been working his way through them in between all of the other books he’s got on his bookshelf. This was actually one book which I read before he got to it, but only because he told me he’d already read it, then once I started it he realised that he hadn’t read it at all. It’s ironic that this post is going live just a few days after he actually finished it.

The Dead of Jericho has Morse meeting a woman named Anne Scott and hitting it off with her quite well but then never seeing her again. Not alive at least. Morse manages to get onto the case investigating the woman’s death and finds connections between Anne and a family who live on the same street as her. Obviously, being Morse, things get quite complicated and more of her neighbours come to Morse’s attention as he tries to get to the bottom of the death.

I have to admit, I found the way that Morse became involved on the case a wee bit contrived. I couldn’t help but think that he wouldn’t have been allowed to get involved with the investigation if he’d known the dead woman. His behaviour wasn’t exactly great either, at one point he was basically breaking into someone’s garden which I imagine would have been frowned upon.

This book actually formed the basis of the first episode of the TV series and as such I’ve watched it a couple of times because I’ve tried watching the complete series at least twice (never getting further in than about ten episodes). I vaguely remembered it but I couldn’t remember specifics so it made for a fairly enjoyable read because much of it was new to me, but the more I read the more came back to me.

I know I repeat this with each of the Colin Dexter books that I read, but I don’t think that he gives you everything that you need to be able to solve the case on your own. Plus he always has loads of characters who come in and out of the story (which I do like, because that’s probably far more like a real police investigation than what you see in shows like CSI where it’s one of about three people), they all add something to the mystery and have their own secrets and things to be worked out. But it does make things a little tricky to keep track of who’s who. That’s why I think these books are best read in a few sittings, if you draw them out too long you can start getting muddled by the characters.

I did like the map showing the area. I like books that include maps in them. I like to know where things are taking place. When I read I get a very vivid picture in my mind and maps definitely help me with that, it avoids those moments when you’re jarred out of the text because your visual map is different to the author’s. At least with a printed map you’re both starting on the same page, so to speak.

Check back next week for my review of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a book which I absolutely fell in love with and will try to write a non-gushy review of.

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