Thursday, 9 September 2010

The Living of Jericho





I first read Colin Dexter’s Morse novel The Dead of Jericho in the early 80s, and I remember enjoying the TV version a few years after that. It is classic Dexter – convoluted, yet highly entertaining.

Dexter’s Jericho is an area of Oxford, a short walk from the city centre, yet possessing a distinctive character of its own. My main memory of Jericho from student days is of occasional visits to the cinema there, sometimes to see arty films, sometimes to see something ultra-commercial – the far from sophisticated Death Wish with Charles Bronson being one movie a lot of us trooped out to see!

I revisited Jericho last week-end for the first time in many years. It’s now home to my webmaster, and I was struck by the liveliness of the area – an excellent mix of town and gown. Take Freud, for instance. A cafe bar in a former church that looks like an ancient Roman temple; I’ve not seen anything quite like it. St Barnabas Church is unorthodox and fascinating. And there are some pretty good murals.

All in all, it made me wonder if any crime writer has used Jericho as a setting in the last few years. The vibrant atmosphere of the area makes it a great backdrop for fiction. If nobody else has had a go since Colin Dexter, maybe there’s a gap in the market!

10 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Oh, thank you for these lovely 'photos! I've read and enjoyed The Dead of Jericho more than once, and it's so nice to have pictures to provide a backdrop for the story. What a nice treat :-).

Fiona said...

I love books that have a real 'spirit of place'. Did your visit make you feel 20 again, or very, very old? It must be fun having your son following in your footsteps (although mine is like me in many ways I just can't see him as a librarian.....)

Hannah Stoneham said...

what an interesting little place it is - when I was a student we always entertained ideas of living there but could never quite afford it - I'm afraid that I don't know about other novels though

Dorte H said...

You make me want to go back to Oxford! I have only visited the town twice, but it is such a beautiful place. I am not sure I am qualified to write about Jericho, though, and I would hardly dare to try as The Dead of Jericho is a formidable novel and hardly something I could live up to :D

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Margot, it's a good book indeed.

Martin Edwards said...

Fiona - well, Oxford has changed less than most places, at least in spirit. It's my son who makes me feel old! But yeas, it is great fun to see him there.

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Hannah, it's not got any cheaper, alas! But a nice place.

Martin Edwards said...

Dorte, it is beautiful and I hope you get to sample it again before too long. Maybe the St Hilda's Conference one year?

Dorte H said...

That would be great! But next year it is CrimeFest in Bristol for me, and I really hope to meet you and several other blog friends there.

Martin Edwards said...

Dorte, that's great, I'll look forward to it!