Colin Dexter

There are sound reasons for the success of Dexter's detective novels of the so-called Golden Age; Their format is reassuringly traditional: Chief Inspector Morse, the eccentric detective, Sergeant Lewis, his loyal Watson, the Oxford setting, the sprinkling of erudition and the whodunnit plots with their clues, red herrings and alibis. The books are beautifully plotted and elegantly written, with sharply observed contemporary settings. The success of the long-running TV series has increased Dexter's readership enormously. TV has also modified the books. Lewis began life as a Welshman. Now he is a Geordie, reflecting Kevin Whateley's portrayal. The Morse novels are first-rate entertainment. Sometimes - when they touch a nerve, as in The Silent World of Nicholas Quin - they become rather more than this.

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