C. Dexter-LAST SEEN WEARING (Al momento della scomparsa la ragazza indossava…) Un puzzle con troppi pezzi da incastrare. Difficile, anche per l’Ispettore Morse!

last seen wearing-Dexter

La caccia alla scomparsa della giovane Valerie Taylor è un bel puzzle da risolvere per l’Ispettore Morse. Morta? Scomparsa veramente? Viva sotto un’altra identità? E le lettere? Chi le ha scritte?

La storia

La storia segue un filo conduttore molto semplice: una giovane e bella ragazza, Valerie Taylor scompare. Dopo due anni il caso torna sul tavolo di Morse, anche per rispetto dell’ ispettore Ainley che aveva cercato di risolvere il caso, ma quando si era avvicinato troppo alla soluzione, un incidente stradale lo tolse di mezzo…

Il metodo investigativo

Il metodo di Morse è scientifico, parte dal dubbio e procede attenendosi strettamente ai fatti. Questa è la sua regola.

“Just stick to the facts, Morse, stick to the facts! It would be difficult, but he would try.”

Questa volta però i fatti lo tradiscono, o per lo meno lo fanno inciampare in una serie di tranelli che Dexter/narratore inaffidabile gli pone davanti, anche per fuorviare il lettore e giocare un po’ con lui.

“For a while Morse sat on silently in his car and pondered many things. Life was down to its dregs, and he had seldom felt so desolate and defeated. He recalled his first interview with Strange at the very beginning of the case, and the distaste he had felt then at the prospect of trying to find a young girl in the midst of this corrupt and corrupting city.

And now, again, he had to presume that she was alive. For all his wayward unpredictability, there was at the centre of his being an inner furnace of passion for truth, for logical analysis; and inexorably now the facts, almost all the facts, were pointing to the same conclusion – that he had been wrong, wrong from the start.”

In English, please!

Il romanzo è un tuffo rigenerante nella lingua Inglese, quella colta e quella “everyday”, con tocchi di slang che rendono l’atmosfera molto realistica e suggestiva. I personaggi ne risultano arricchiti e molto caratterizzati. Questo è il vantaggio della versione originale.

carryin’ it in ’er left hand, if me memory serves me correck.’”

Inspector Morse and Lewis

Dove siamo?

La storia si svolge a Oxford e dintorni, nel Galles e a Londra. Kidlington, sobborgo di Oxford, è una periferia come tante con annessi e connessi, quali la fuga inevitabile dei suoi giovani verso le lusinghe di Londra. Il mondo della scuola è il luogo reale e narrativo in cui si muovono i nostri personaggi.

Oxford High School


Professori e presidi (maschi) un po’ scontati. Grigi e arrivisti e, come da copione, attratti ineluttabilmente e pericolosamente dalle grazie adolescenziali delle loro allieve. Padri quasi trasparenti.

Le donne incarnano per lo più triti cliché: mogli tradite, per benino, tutte casa, corsi di arte, chiesa e cucina; mogli e madri consumate dal gioco e dall’alcol; adolescenti in fuga, brillanti e intelligenti e in cerca di eccitanti avventure a Londra, dove finiscono con il diventare oggetto delle attenzioni di luridi vermi.


E poi ci sono loro, gli investigatori. L’ ispettore Morse, 45enne (ma sembra molto più vecchio!) in crisi esistenziale, esibizionista nello sfoggio  di citazioni colte. Ma conosce il suo mestiere…

Il sergente Lewis è specchio riflesso dei vari sergenti della tradizione giallistica britannica, anche televisiva (Barnaby, George, Vera etc etc). Rincorre il suo capo, ma ha spesso delle intuizioni felici.

Mi è piaciuto?

Per rendere l’idea di cosa ho provato ad un certo punto della lettura, parto dalle considerazioni del narratore sullo stato psicologico di Morse, dopo un lungo peregrinare tra ipotesi, riscontri e fallimenti:

“He sat for half an hour and thought and thought, and thought himself nowhere. It was no good: his mind was stale and the wells of imagination and inspiration were dry as the Sahara sands.”

Superato il momento di perplessità, ho accompagnato Morse verso l’agognata  soluzione, rassegnata ma soddisfatta.

Ed ora a voi il compito e il piacere di mettere insieme i pezzi del puzzle.

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. A. Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four”

(Eliminato l’impossibile, qualunque cosa rimanga, per quanto improbabile, deve essere la verità.)


L’orario scolastico, un vero rompicapo per il prof incaricato, ma che elettrizzante senso di potere! “There was a certain intellectual challenge in dovetailing the myriad options and combinations of the curriculum to match the inclinations and capacities of the staff available; and, at the same time (for Baines), a vicarious sense of power.”

Caratterizzazione-Mr Taylor- “Mr Taylor was an inarticulate man, utterly unable to rationalize into words his favourable attitude towards his present job. It would have been difficult for anyone. The foul detritus of the city was all around him, rotten food and potato peelings, old mattresses, piles of sheer filth, rats and always (from somewhere) the scavenger gulls. And yet he liked it.”

Ma cosa studiano i ragazzi Inglesi!– “He contemplated with supercilious disdain the academic disciplines (sub-disciplines, he would call them) which were now monopolizing the secondary school curricula. ‘Environmental Studies’, he doubted, was little more than a euphemism for occasional visits to the gasworks, the fire-station and the sewage installations; whilst for Sociology and Sociologists he had nothing but sour contempt, and could never discover either what was entailed in its subject matter or how its practitioners deployed their dubious talents. With such a plethora of non-subjects crowding the timetable there was no room for the traditional disciplines taught in his own day . . . But French now. At least that had a bit of backbone, although he had always felt that a language which sanctioned the pronunciation of donne, donnes and donnent without the slightest differentiation could hardly deserve to be taken seriously. Anyway, she was studying French and it was French which won the day.”

Spazzatura e specie umana– “Doubtless grass and shrubs would soon be burgeoning there, and the animals would return to their old territories and scurry once more in the hedgerows amid the bracken and the wild flowers. And people would come and scatter their picnic litter around and the whole process would begin again. Sometimes Homo sapiens was a thoroughly disgusting species.”

La famiglia, che invenzione! “Three isolated personalities, under the same roof, somehow brought and kept together by that statistical unit beloved by the sociologists – the family.”

La giostra dell’insonnia“Morse slept fitfully that night. Broken images littered his mind, like the broken glass strewn about the rubbish tip. He tossed and turned; but the merry-go-round was out of control, and at 3.00 a.m. he got up to make himself a cup of tea. Back in bed, with the light left on, he tried to concentrate his closed, swift-darting eyes on to a point about three inches in front of his nose, and gradually the spinning mechanism began to slow down, slower and slower, and then it stopped.”

Al corso di aggiornamento i professori di lingue scoprono l’approccio ironico…– “And then that burly, cheerful fellow from Bradford had brought the academic argument down to earth with a magnificent thud: give him a lad or a lass with t’gumption to order t’pound of carrots at t’French greengrocer’s shop, any dair! The conference exploded in glorious uproar. Slyly, a dignified old greybeard suggested that no Englishman, even one who had the good fortune to learn his native tongue in Yorkshire, had ever been confronted with an insuperable language-barrier in finding his way to a pissoir in Paris.”

Il Latino è difficile? Ecco la soluzione del professore di Morse– “Problem! He remembered his old Latin master. Hm! Whenever he was confronted with an insoluble difficulty – a crux in the text, an absurdly complex chunk of syntax – he would turn to his class with a serious mien: ‘Gentlemen, having looked this problem boldly in the face, we must now, I think, pass on.’ Morse smiled at the recollection…”

L’assemblea quotidiana prima di iniziare le lezioni è un rito irrinunciabile– “And, always, reserved until the end, he read with doomsday gravity a list of names; the names of pupils who would report outside the staff room immediately after the assembly was finished: the recalcitrants, the anarchists, the obstructionists, the truants, the skivers, and the defectors in general from the rules that governed the corporate life of the establishment.”

Ragni e belle statuine “With a startling suddenness, a large spider darted across the floor with a brief, electric scurry – and, as suddenly, stopped – frozen into a static, frightening immobility. A fat-bodied, long-legged spider, the angular joints of the hairy limbs rising high above the dark squat body. Another scurry – and again the frozen immobility – more frightening in its stillness than in its motion. It reminded Morse of a game he used to play at children’s parties called ‘statues’; the music suddenly stopped and – still! Freeze! Don’t move a muscle! Like the spider.”

Il pub poco prima della chiusura-che atmosfera!– “The cigarette smoke hung in blue wreaths, head-high like undispersing morning mist, and the chatter along the bar and at the tables was raucous and interminable, the subtleties of conversational silence quite unknown. Cribbage, dominoes and darts and every available surface cluttered with glasses: glasses with handles and glasses without, glasses empty, glasses being emptied and glasses about to be emptied, and then refilled with the glorious, amber fluid.”