I enjoyed the recently screened ITV3 documentary about Colin Dexter, which featured interviews with plenty of contemporary writers who expressed their enthusiasm for Colin’s work – enthusiasm which I’ve shared since the early days of his career. I remember his first Morse novel coming out while I was a student. If I’d stumped up for a hardback copy, it would have been far better as an investment than my jinxed pension plan.
Colin is an entertaining speaker, and I first heard him at a library event in Liverpool before I was a published writer. I mentioned recently his poignant after dinner speech at St Hilda’s, and he always exudes charm, as well as humour. I cherish a photograph taken outside the Oxford Museum a few years ago, in which a group of writers including Colin, myself and Anne Perry were snapped next to cardboard cut-outs of John Thaw and Kevin Whately – a souvenir of a very enjoyable day.
In the programme, Colin made the point that Morse possesses many of his creator’s characteristics. But the detective’s lack of generosity is something that Colin Dexter does not share. A few years ago, I was working on an anthology to celebrate the CWA’s Golden Jubilee, and I was keen to have a contribution from most of the genre’s luminaries. When I sent a message to Colin, asking if he was willing to come up with a new story, I was truly gratified to receive a phone call at home one Sunday morning, saying that he’d be glad to. And he was as good as his word. The story was called ‘The Double Crossing’ and it appeared in Mysterious Pleasures, which in sales terms is the most successful of the 16 anthologies I've edited.