Last Seen Wearing (Dexter novel)

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Last Seen Wearing
Cover of the first edition
AuthorColin Dexter
Cover artistJohn Thompson
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesInspector Morse series, #2
Genrecrime novel
Publication date
April 1976
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
Preceded byLast Bus to Woodstock 
Followed byThe Silent World of Nicholas Quinn 

Last Seen Wearing is a crime novel by Colin Dexter, the second novel in the Inspector Morse series.

The novel was dramatised by Thomas Ellice for the television series, first transmitted in 1988. In 1994, it was dramatised by Guy Meredith for BBC Radio 4.


A man, later known to be Donald Phillipson, goes for an interview in Oxford for the job of headmaster of a school, later known to be the Roger Bacon Comprehensive School in Oxford. At the bus stop a girl gets into conversation with him and later seduces him. She turns out to be a girl from the school, Valerie Taylor, and a year later she goes missing.

Two years after that Inspector Morse picks up the case following a road accident in which Chief Inspector Ainley, who had been investigating the mystery, was killed. A letter arrives apparently from Valerie, but Morse is convinced Valerie must be dead and tries to find out what happened on the day she disappeared. She had gone home from school for lunch that day, and was apparently last seen on her return journey by a lollipop man, carrying a bag and wearing her distinctive school blouse and red socks. Morse suspects she was pregnant and that she had been sent off for an abortion.

The plot thickens when Reginald Baines, another teacher at the school, is found murdered at his house near Oxford Station. Two suspicious characters had been seen near the house — Donald Philipson's wife, wearing a distinctive cherry coloured coat, and David Acum, a French teacher who had taught Valerie’s last lesson.

Publication history[edit]

Radio play[edit]

In 1994 the BBC Radio 4 play Last Seen Wearing was dramatised from the novel by Guy Meredith and directed by Ned Chaillet.[1]


Character Television adaptation Radio play
Insp. Endeavour Morse John Thaw John Shrapnel
Sgt. Robert Lewis Kevin Whately Robert Glenister
Donald Phillipson Peter McEnery Miles Anderson
Shelia Phillipson Fiona Mollison Melinda Walker
George Taylor Glyn Houston Donald Sumpter
Gwen Taylor Frances Tomelty Frances Jeater
Reginald Baines Suzanne Bertish
(named Cheryl)
Terence Edmond
Valerie Taylor Melissa Simmonds Tamsin Greig
Chief Supt. Strange James Grout John Hartley
Versatile Vera Emily Woof

Sources, references, external links[edit]

  • Bishop, David, The Complete Inspector Morse: From the Original Novels to the TV Series London: Reynolds & Hearn (2006) ISBN 1-905287-13-5
  • Bird, Christopher, The World of Inspector Morse: A Complete A-Z Reference for the Morse Enthusiast Foreword by Colin Dexter, London: Boxtree (1998) ISBN 0-7522-2117-5