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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

The Dead of Jericho

Reviewed: August 2, 2002
By: Colin Dexter
Publisher: Ballantine/Ivy
295 pages, $9.99

After a year or so of watching John Thaw present this character and Dexterís stories on A&E, I finally got around to sampling the print version of Inspector Morse. I was not at all surprised to find out how much better the books are. It happened that I had seen The Dead of Jericho fairly recently, and I was surprised at how many changes were made in the translation to the small screen.

The biggest one was to make it Morseís introduction to Sgt. Lewis, his man Friday throughout most of the series. In the book they are already a team.

In this novel poor Morse takes a shine to a woman that he meets at a reception. They seem to hit it off fairly well, but nothing develops at the time. Itís some weeks before he works up the nerve to go and see her, and when it does heís too late. The door to the house in Jericho is open, but no one seems to be home. Anne Scott is at home, of course, but sheís hanging in a room he canít see from the entrance, and he has no idea heíll have anything to do with the case at the time.

Morse sometimes seems to solve his cases by blundering. In this novel he develops a beautiful theory full of classical allusions which seems to fit the exact shape of the case. Itís very convincing - and itís dead wrong. What it does do is take him a step closer to the actual solution, which he almost reaches by accident.

It was an enjoyable book, quite a bit better than the television series. I intend to keep watching those anyway. Theyíre good examples of the form, just not as good as the originals.

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