Despite having grown up watching the Inspector Morse TV series with John Thaw and Kevin Whately I realised I’ve never actually read any of the books. As it’s actually hot enough in the UK to feel like a proper summer it tends to mean I end up reading more and nine times out of ten it’s a detective novel so it felt like a good time to see how the books compare. My parents ave the complete set so I decided to start at the beginning and so read The Last Bus to Woodstock, which was first published in 1975.
I’m not sure how popular the Inspector Morse series is outside of the UK, or even in the UK, any more as there hasn’t been a new episode in over 15 years and it’s pretty much only shown on the digital ITV channels as repeats, though it is available on the ITV player if you live in the UK and want to watch some. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a detective series based on these books by Colin Dexter. It’s based in Oxford and the main characters, Morse and sergeant Lewis, tend to end up with the more unusual murders. The kind that need some different ideas and only really make sense when explained at the end. They’re fairly quiet, as far as murder mysteries can be, and there’s lots of visits to pubs and conversations rather than fast paced action sequences and violence.
I’m not sure how popular George Gently as a TV series has been outside the UK but it was a fairly popular series that finished last year. It’s a detective show set in the 60s which revolves around Inspector George Gently (played by Martin Shaw) and his sergeant Bacchus (who isn’t in the books). I’ve loved the show and didn’t realise it was even based on a series of books until recently and, when I saw one in the library, I had to read one and see how it compared.
It seems like a lot of TV shows are based on books and it’s very rare for me to actually like both versions. There are often so many differences that one or the other stands out as better to me, whether it was the first version I saw or not. The main difference here, that I can see from one book anyway, is the lack of Bacchus (played by Lee Ingleby). I had read before finding this book that the character of George Gently himself was very different but I found that I could imagine the TV version when reading this. Maybe because this book is around the twentieth book in the series of forty six (if I’m remembering that number correctly) so he may have mellowed compared to what I’ve read on the character.
This review is about the book, I just thought that it would be worth doing a bit of an introduction including the TV show as that’s how I found the book in the first place and I think it may be the more well known incarnation.