Book name: Last Bus to Woodstock
Author: Colin Dexter
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Murder mystery/crime fiction
Publication Date: 1975
Star Rating: 4/5
The 'Inspector Morse' detective novels are all set in and around Oxford.
The first novel in the series is Last Bus to Woodstock, so this is where the highly popular books and the multiple TV series based upon them all began.
Woodstock is a truly beautiful market town a few miles outside Oxford. I lived there in the mid 1990s for a year while I was working in Birmingham, training to be a solicitor.
I loved living in Woodstock, not least because it was so close to the lovely city where I was at university.
The murder of a young woman takes place in the courtyard of an old inn in the centre of Woodstock, and her body is discovered some hours later. Her skull has been bashed in with a tyre-spanner.
Inspector Morse, meeting his future sidekick Sergeant Lewis for the first time, is tasked with solving the crime.
There is evidence that Sylvia, the victim, has just had sex, so it is initially assumed that she must have been raped before being murdered.
This leads to the assumption that the killer must be male, although subsequently that will be tested.
Morse’s investigations centre around the sightings of Sylvia and another young woman waiting for a bus to Woodstock, becoming frustrated when it is late and then hitching a lift.
He soon works out that the driver of the red car witnessed stopping to give them both a lift is known to one of the young women.
Extramarital affairs between young women and older men form the cornerstone of the reasons for the car driver and Sylvia’s friend both failing to come forward to identify themselves to the police.
I loved Last Bus to Woodstock. There’s always something special about reading a book set in a place you know really well, and Colin Dexter certainly captured the essence of the small town.
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