Again, with the lockdown I have reached out for the comfort of those authors I greatly enjoy. For some reason, I hadn't read this early Morse and it was once again a delight to be in Morse's company, even if he is grumpy and sharp towards his second in command, Sergeant Lewis who, despite his boss' manner, has an affection for his boss, making him Morse's perfect foil. I had forgotten how terribly arrogant Morse can be during his moments of frustration, but Dexter was very clever that in pointing out Morse's failings as well as his successes, his readers never could outright dislike his detective, but in a way relate to him.
One thing I had forgotten about these novels is the insertion of humour which is not as ribald as Reginald Hill, but subtle and made me grin as I read on. I was also reminded that Morse did not always get to the right solution on the first go and shown to be scrabbling around in the dark like the rest of us for the murderer. Here, I felt that Dexter only just manages to pin his convoluted solution down which was for a few moments threatening to unravel and become slightly too unbelievable. I warn you that there can be no skipping pages with this case. Your attention is required to get maximum satisfaction from this stimulating case for Morse. However, having said that, I point out that this book was published in 1977 and some of the attitudes will strike some as old-fashioned, including smoking in pubs as well as Dexter's descriptions of his female characters or the delectable talents of Inga Nielsson currently showing at Studio 2 in 'The Nymphomaniac'. Besides these old attitudes, it was good to catch up with Morse… just don't expect him to buy you a round of drinks!