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!