Colin Dexter, who created Inspector Morse and wrote 13 novels featuring the character, died peacefully at his home in Oxford, England on Tuesday at age 86.
Dexter was known for his Inspector Morse books, which were adapted into a popular TV show that ran for 13 years and inspired both a spinoff sequel (Lewis) and a prequel (Endeavour). Dexter himself made cameo appearances in almost every one of Inspector Morse‘s 33 episodes. He even wrote an episode, The Wolvercote Tongue, which Dexter then turned into a novel, The Jewel That Was Ours, which EW described as “elegant, complex, yet with enough dark undercurrents to qualify as serious entertainment of the highest order.”
“Colin was an author who inspired all those who worked with him,” said Maria Rejt, Dexter’s most recent editor at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. “His loyalty, modesty, and self-deprecating humor gave joy to many. His was the sharpest mind and the biggest heart, and his wonderful novels and stories will remain a testament to both.”
Added Macmillan publisher Jeremy Trevathan, “With Colin’s death there has been a tectonic shift in the International crime writing scene. Colin represented the absolute epitome of British crime writing, and in the 1990s John Thaw’s Inspector Morse took over Wednesday night television. He was one of those television characters who the nation took to their hearts. This is a very sad day for us all.”
Following his graduation from Cambridge in 1953, Dexter began working as a teacher, and even wrote textbooks, before eventually turning to fiction during a family holiday in Wales. His first book, Last Bus to Woodstock, introduced readers to his now-iconic character’s cranky disposition and love of classic cars, classical music, crosswords, and English real ale — as well as the mystery of his first name (“Endeavour”), which wasn’t revealed until a later book in the series.
The books saw Morse (who was played by actor John Thaw in the show) solve mysteries set in Oxford, with some assistance from Sergeant Lewis, until Dexter killed the character off in his final book, The Remorseful Day.