Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Late Great Colin Dexter

Colin Dexter, the mystery writer best known for creating Inspector Morse, died on March 21 2017 at the age of 86.

Colin Dexter was born on September 29 1930 in Stamford, Lincolnshire. His father, Alfred Dexter, ran a garage in Scotgate, Stamford, while his mother, Dorothy, worked in a butcher shop. Colin Dexter attended St. John's Infants School and Bluecoat Junior School. He won a scholarship to the prestigious Stamford School. Mr. Dexter fulfilled his national service by serving in the Royal Corps of Signals. He received a bachelor's degree in classics from  Christ's College, Cambridge in 1953.

He taught classics at Wyggeston Grammar School in Leicester and earned a master's degree from Cambridge in 1958. Afterwards he taught classics at Corby Grammar School in Northamptonshire until retiring in 1966 because of deafness. He then took a position as senior assistant secretary at the Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations. He held this job until he retired in 1988.

It while on vacation with his family in Wales in the early Seventies that Colin Dexter, out of boredom more than anything else, began work on the very first Inspector Morse novel. Last Bus to Woodstock was published in 1975 and was followed by twelve more Inspector Morse novels. Mr. Dexter also wrote two novellas and several short stories as well as the book Cracking Cryptic Crosswords: A Guide to Solving Cryptic Crossword.

Inspector Morse proved very successful, inspiring the ITV television show Inspector Morse, that ran from 1987 to 2000, as well as the sequel Lewis and the prequel Endeavour.

There can be little doubt that Colin Dexter was one of the great mystery writers of the late 20th Century. His Inspector Morse novels are mysteries in the Holmesian mould, with complex cases that often included plenty of false leads and false clues. Colin Dexter had a gift for colourful characters, none more so than Morse himself. Inspector Morse loved classical music and poetry, and a weakness for pretty women.  Between his talent for creating complex mysteries and a gift for well-developed characters, there should be little wonder that Colin Dexter was often counted alongside the likes of Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

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