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Dark Puss

Ah yes, Gervaise Fen the man that gives academia a bad name in my opinion! Probably the worst detective book I have ever read featured him (Holy Disorders); just dreadful! Many people seem to rate Crispin highly and maybe I read the "wrong" book, but no way (unless you chose it for CBG) am I going near him again. I have read many of the Dexter books and (I think) seen all of the television series, I'd urge to read some of the best ones even if you think it might spoil your view of Morse.


In addition to the podcast I've talked about above I also watched the one featuring Colin Dexter. His talk is discursive and anecdotal rather than offering any kind of analysis of the books or the background to them.
I'd find it hard to envisage a Morse who was not John Thaw, or to read about a middle-aged Welsh Lewis instead of the (youngish) Geordie Kevin Whately. The programmes seemed so perfect to me that I don't want to muddy the waters, though I'm sure there's much to be gained from reading the books. Maybe I'll try!

Rosie H

Interesting - I much prefer the Morse of the books, and will not willingly watch the TV series because it spoils my mental image of him! I don't mean in looks, but I prefer the book character. However, I am a big fan of Lewis (the TV series as well as the character). But then, I also like Gervase Fen, and think Holy Disorders is one of the best books featuring him, so what do I know?!

Dark Puss

Dear Rosie H; no idea how to answer your question. I have no reason to think that you "know" any less than I do. I tend (slightly) to your view that the Morse of the books is more interesting than the Morse of the TV series (love Thaw though I do). I'm going to stick to my guns about Holy Disorders though!


I haven't read any Edmund Crispin, so haven't encountered Gervase Fen yet!
Lewis is great - so sorry to hear it's coming to an end.
The pilot episode of Endeavour was very promising, I thought.


Thank you for the link to the podcasts - so much to find poking around the site.



Oh I loved Gaudy Night when I read it a few years ago. Time for a re-read I think. Nice post.


Yes indeed!


I haven't read it (and there's a copy here on the shelf) but I must do so.


I'm a Sarah Caudwell fan and would warmly recommend her novels to anyone who enjoys crime fiction that tends towards cozy and entertaining. She is such a clever, witty writer.


She sounds it! Glad to hear you recommend her.


Thanks for flagging this up, I'd never have stumbled on it. Gervase Fen is an acquired taste I think. On Morse I borrowed the complete box set and thoroughly enjoyed them reading them in order - having turned my feminist sensibilities off as Morse in the books is even more of a sexist old goat than in the TV programmes. Some how I managed to read the books with the young Geordie Lewis still in tact in my head.


I thought the portrayal by John Thaw of Morse was excellent and did not enoy the books. Normally having read a book first, it is the screen version that suffers,so that was an intersting change.

I found Lewis not so compelling as a follow-on series - his vulnerabilities were not so appealing somehow as those of Morse as played by John Thaw.

I have a soft spot for Gaudy Night and just adore it. I cant say why - my intellect tells me I should dislike the whole thing intesnsely but my emotions just refuse to listen to my intellect :)

Lorraine S.

I was going to ask if ANYONE has read the Inspector Morse books. A couple above have. I loved the series and seeing cameos of Colin Dexter. I will now read the books. Also the same w/Midsummer Murders. There are a number of interviews on youtube with Colin Dexter. Love Inspector Lewis but had a little trouble understanding the dialogue between Lewis and Hathaway at first. Thanks for the video links.

Dark Puss

Not one I'm going to acquire and I really hope Karen doesn't chose one of the books he appears in for the CBG as I'll then have to face Fen again in print.

Dark Puss

Lorraine, yes I too have read four or five of them. Some were rather better than the TV adaption of the same name (I mean of a particular book not the series as a whole).


If I were in mischievous mood I might just ...
For those of us who haven't read any Crispin, please tell us what is so awful about Fen, DP.

Dark Puss

To be fair to Fen, what I really meant to say was that I didn't like the book as a whole. Lots of implausible coincidences, cardboard cut-out or stereotypical characters (including in my opinion Fen) etc. It contains Nazi's, farce, witchcraft, ghost stories, detection etc. all completely mixed up without any real direction. I felt that it was a novel going in a number of different directions all at once. Given that I did not like that aspect (it didn't work for me in this book at all) then the fact that I didn't like the character of Fen at all grated in addition. I have read a number of reviews of this book in which Fen is described as engaging and amusing. I found him neither, he is childish and vastly over fond of his own "wit" and "erudition".




Thank you for drawing attention to the podcast, which I have just found time to watch. Most enjoyable.


Glad you enjoyed it, Moira.

adele geras

thanks for this and the podcasts, Cornflower! I love so many of these books and must one day reread the Michael Innes books. I loved those when I was younger. But the good news is Sarah Caudwell, who is indeed wonderful, is being reprinted. I saw the news in the Bookseller and alas, didn't make a note of when and by whom but she's definitely on the way back! Hurray!


Constable & Robinson, due out in October!


I have only read one book with Gervase Fen, "The Moving Toyshop", years and years ago, and it set my teeth on edge and irritated me so much that I have never read any more, so definitely an acquired taste I suppose but life is too short.


Have read a couple of 'Morse' books and although good ---- that is not the real 'Morse' for me. John Thaw wins everytime. 'Lewis' will always be a Geordie as Kevin Whately is!!!

Barbara Climie

I am rereading the Kate Ivory books in order after many years. I can’t seem to find what happened to Paul Taylor. Her other men all have a documented departure. Has anyone spotted the reason for his departure?

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