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 the 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 attracted to a woman who drinks too much and is one of the lecturers to the group. 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 seems overly drawn out in this book. 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, but 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 him at a signing some years ago in southern California, he was a very personable fellow.
If your only experience with Morse is with the televised series, I encourage you to try the books, these are very good.
I liked the books a lot too. We just watched the entire Morse series (on Acorn, I believe) and they did the “Wolvercote Tongue” story in Series 2 (1987). Four years later, Dexter novelized it as THE JEWEL THAT WAS OURS (1992). I enjoyed looking for Dexter’s non-speaking cameos in each of the Morse episodes.
Yes, we recently saw the episode of this on Morse. I love Thaw in the role, but prefer the books.
You are lucky to have met Dexter! And I agree with you that it’s a very well-written series. It’s interesting to see how he put the puzzles together, and I always admired his ability to create an interesting mystery.
He was an interesting man. I like the books a lot.
I have only read a few of the early books in the series. Like you I enjoyed each read but wasn’t in a hurry to read more. But I do have more of them somewhere, and I will probably read more of them.
These make a great break from more recent reading, and the writing is solid, the characters great.
Like Tracy, I’ve read only a few of the early books in the series. I need to get back to reading Dexter after reading your fine review!
Thank you, George.
For me it was maybe the best series ever, both in print and on TV. Thaw was so terrific in the part.
He surely was, Patti. They’re very re-watchable.