Wednesday 30 September 2009

Colin Dexter

I enjoyed the recently screened ITV3 documentary about Colin Dexter, which featured interviews with plenty of contemporary writers who expressed their enthusiasm for Colin’s work – enthusiasm which I’ve shared since the early days of his career. I remember his first Morse novel coming out while I was a student. If I’d stumped up for a hardback copy, it would have been far better as an investment than my jinxed pension plan.

Colin is an entertaining speaker, and I first heard him at a library event in Liverpool before I was a published writer. I mentioned recently his poignant after dinner speech at St Hilda’s, and he always exudes charm, as well as humour. I cherish a photograph taken outside the Oxford Museum a few years ago, in which a group of writers including Colin, myself and Anne Perry were snapped next to cardboard cut-outs of John Thaw and Kevin Whately – a souvenir of a very enjoyable day.

In the programme, Colin made the point that Morse possesses many of his creator’s characteristics. But the detective’s lack of generosity is something that Colin Dexter does not share. A few years ago, I was working on an anthology to celebrate the CWA’s Golden Jubilee, and I was keen to have a contribution from most of the genre’s luminaries. When I sent a message to Colin, asking if he was willing to come up with a new story, I was truly gratified to receive a phone call at home one Sunday morning, saying that he’d be glad to. And he was as good as his word. The story was called ‘The Double Crossing’ and it appeared in Mysterious Pleasures, which in sales terms is the most successful of the 16 anthologies I've edited.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

He sounds very gracious. Morse is a fascinating character...probably the most complex detective around.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing a look at one of my favorite authors! I've always loved the Morse series, and your post gave some really interesting information on Dexter.

R/T said...

Thank you for sharing the posting about Colin Dexter. I am particularly fond of Dexter's creation, Inspector Morse, and wish that the original TV programs were being rerun here in the U.S. The new series featuring Lewis is very good in many ways but Morse's spectre looms large throughout, making me more eager than ever to return either to the original TV series or to a rereading of all of Dexter's Morse novels. It is, however, now impossible for me to read the novels without constantly seeing Thaw in my mind's eye. But I have no complaints. I simply enjoy.

Dorte H said...

Morse & lack of generosity? Yes, perhaps, but Colin Dexter has made the man so real that I am quite ready to make excuses for him. I think that beneath the intelligent facade he is a lonely person who cannot love himself, and this makes it quite difficult to love your neighbour.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments. Colin is a much loved individual, I think, just as Morse is - for all his grumpiness - a much loved detective. R.T., I agree, John Thaw made the character his, in a way few actors playing detectives have ever matched.