The Jewel That Was Ours by Colin Dexter, Ballantine (Ivy), 1991, paperback, mystery, police procedural – Inspector Morse
This is Inspector Morse’s ninth outing, if I have the count right, and though I’ve tried to read these in order it’s been a while and I think I pulled this off the shelf out of order. Still, little seems to have changed, perhaps Lewis is slightly more confident, and Morse is an angrier, sadder, boozier man than I remembered from the last one I read.
I liked John Thaw as Morse on Mystery! and now I can’t read these books without picturing him in the role. No problem there.
This story concerns a group of tourists, all from California, on a tour of Oxford and other historical cities. One of the group is going to present an Oxford museum with The Wolverton Tongue, part of a buckle artifact originally set with three rubies (only one left now). The woman has a heart attack, the “jewel” is stolen, then a lecturer is murdered. Morse is interested in the group, and is especially attracted to one of the lecturers, a woman who enjoys a drink as much as he does. With two deaths and a theft, the tour halts while Morse and Lewis investigate the many clues.
Dexter is a pleasure to read, though the last chapter of this one seems overly drawn out. Still, the motives are sound, the red herrings sufficiently convincing, the language satisfying, the clues well if scantily placed, and it’s another good Morse outing. These books are satisfying enough that I never seem to want to read two in a row, yet each time I pick one up I’m glad I did. I think I still have a couple unread, so there is more to enjoy ahead. I was lucky enough to meet Colin Dexter some years ago in southern California at a signing. He was a very interesting and personable fellow.
If your only experience with Morse is with the televised series, I encourage you to try the books, they are very good.