Colin Dexter (1930 - 2017)

Colin Dexter, the British crime writer whose Inspector Morse character inhabited more than a dozen novels including "Last Bus to Woodstock," died Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in Oxford, England. He was 86.

Born Norman Colin Dexter Sept. 29, 1930, he started his professional life during the 1950s as a classics teacher at English grammar schools. He transitioned to a writing career after he became deaf in 1966.

At first, he first wrote textbooks, but he began work on a mystery novel during a 1972 vacation with his family. That work would become his debut novel, "Last Bus to Woodstock," which was published in 1975. It featured Inspector Morse, who loves solving cryptic crosswords (as did his creator), real ale, English literature, and music.


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Other Inspector Morse novels include "The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn" (1977), "The Riddle of the Third Mile" (1983), "The Jewel That Was Ours" (1991), and "The Remorseful Day" (1999). The Inspector Morse series spawned an ITV television series, "Inspector Morse," from 1987 to 2000.

Mystery lovers in the U.S. may know of Dexter's work that featured another detective, Robbie Lewis. "Inspector Lewis" ran in the U.S. on the Public Broadcasting Service from 2006 to 2016.

Dexter also wrote novellas and short stories, as well as the 2010 nonfiction book "Cracking Cryptic Crosswords: A Guide To Solving Cryptic Crosswords."

Dexter's work has garnered many honors including awards from the Crime Writers' Association: two Silver Daggers for "Service of All the Dead" in 1979 and "The Dead of Jericho" in 1981; two Gold Daggers for "The Wench Is Dead" in 1989 and "The Way Through the Woods" in 1992; and a Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement in 1997.

In 2000, Dexter was appointed an officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to literature.

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