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The Remorseful Day (Inspector Morse Series #13)

The Remorseful Day (Inspector Morse Series #13)

4.1 22
by Colin Dexter

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For a year, the murder of Mrs. Yvonne Harrison at her home in Oxfordshire had baffled the Thames Valley CID. The manner of her death--her naked handcuffed body left lying in bed--matched her reputation as a women of adventuresome sexual tastes. The case seemed perfect for Inspector Morse. So why has he refused to become involved--even after anonymous hints of new


For a year, the murder of Mrs. Yvonne Harrison at her home in Oxfordshire had baffled the Thames Valley CID. The manner of her death--her naked handcuffed body left lying in bed--matched her reputation as a women of adventuresome sexual tastes. The case seemed perfect for Inspector Morse. So why has he refused to become involved--even after anonymous hints of new evidence, even after a fresh murder? Sgt. Lewis's loyalty to his infuriating boss slowly turns to deep distress as his own investigations suggest that Mrs. Harrison was no stranger to Morse. Far from it. Never has Morse performed more brilliantly than in this final adventure, whose masterly twists and turns through the shadowy byways of passion grip us to the death. . . .

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com Review
bn.com's Review

It says right on the cover: The final Inspector Morse Novel. Too bad. Over the years, Dexter (and his readers) has had a good time creating one more British eccentric detective. If anything, his Inspector Morse is as mysterious and enigmatic as any of the victims and suspects he encounters.

What Dexter is above all is a damned good writer. He does it all well. Character, place description, atmosphere, plotting -- he rarely goes wrong. Fittingly, The Remorseful Day is one of the best in the series, a sturdy look at the life and death of one Yvonne Harrison whose murder has baffled the police for more than a year. This is the kind of case Morse seems eminently suited for. And yet he refuses to get officially involved in the case (though isn't he putting in a lot of unofficial hours looking into the matter?) and his coworkers want to know why.

Dexter has avoided all the pitfalls of swan songs. It's not sentimental, it doesn't given him awkwardly "big moments" for literary posterity, and it doesn't make him any less enigmatic. Morse, thank God, remains Morse.

Dexter has usually managed to incorporate elements of the thriller, the village mystery, the Golden Age puzzle, and the buddy-comedy (his Sergeant Lewis is a pleasure) into most of his procedurals and he invests his last Morse with all the same pieces and virtues.

There's a genuinely timeless quality about this book. I suspect it'll be read and loved for many years hence. A first-rate last Morse from a skilled and always engaging writer.

--Ed Gorman

New York Times Book Review
Not since Nero Wolfe has a detective of Morses's ratiocinative skills, refined tastes and tetchy temperament held court in such magisterial fashion.
Tony Gibbs
Dexter's portrait of contemporary British suburban society is chillingly evocative, while the case is as complex as any mystery lover could ask for.
Bruce Elliot Tapper
Right on the jacket the publisher of The Remorseful Day informs us that this is the final Inspector Morse novel. Fans of the brilliant, boozy, sometimes arrogant British detective will thus inevitably have their attention deflected from the plot - which is too bad. Colin Dexter, Inspector Morse's creator, writes classically intricate mysteries with gripping stories and well-placed clues. This one is no different: The year-old unsolved murder of a nurse is abruptly reactivated by an anonymous phone call to Morse's superior, and the ailing detective has the case dumped in his lap. He finds that the victim's hyperactive sex life has provided a surprisingly large number of potential suspects, all of whom have had time to hide or confuse their tracks. Dexter's portrait of contemporary British suburban society is chillingly evocative, while the case is as complex as any mystery lover could ask for. And Morse's future? Read the book and find out.
Islands Magazine
From the Publisher
"Fascinating . . . Memorable . . . [A] sweetly rueful conclusion to a revered series."
—The Washington Post Book World

"IMPECCABLY PLOTTED . . . A series that raised the bar for genre writing. Not since Nero Wolfe has a detective of Morse's ratiocinative skills, refined tastes, and tetchy temperament held court in such a magisterial fashion."
—The New York Times Book Review

"THE PLOT IS FLAMBOYANTLY CLEVER: even the most minor characters are bizarre and intriguing. Long after his swan song, Morse will be missed."
—Los Angeles Times

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Inspector Morse Series , #13
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Random House
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3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

You holy Art, when all my hope is shaken,

And through life's raging tempest I am drawn,

You make my heart with warmest love to waken,

As if into a better world reborn.

(From An Die Musik, translated by Basil Swift)

Apart (of course) from Wagner, apart from Mozart's compositions for the
clarinet, Schubert was one of the select composers who could
occasionally transport him to the frontier of tears. And it was
Schubert's turn in the early evening of Wednesday, July 15, 1998,
when--The Archers over--a bedroom-slippered Chief Inspector Morse was to
be found in his North Oxford bachelor flat, sitting at his ease in Zion
and listening to a Lieder recital on Radio 3, an amply filled tumbler of
pale Glenfiddich beside him. And why not? He was on a few days' furlough
that had so far proved quite unexpectedly pleasurable.

Morse had never enrolled in the itchy-footed regiment of truly
adventurous souls, feeling (as he did) little temptation to explore the
remoter corners even of his native land, and this principally because he
could now imagine few if any places closer to his heart than Oxford--the
city which, though not his natural mother, had for so many years
performed the duties of a loving foster parent. As for foreign travel,
long faded were his boyhood dreams that roamed the sands round
Samarkand; and a lifelong pterophobia still precluded any airline
bookings to Bayreuth, Salzburg, Vienna--the trio of cities he sometimes
thought he ought to see.

Vienna . . .

The city Schubert had so rarely left; the city in which he'd gained so
little recognition; where he'd died of typhoid fever--only thirty-one.

Not much of an innings, was it--thirty-one?

Morse leaned back, listened, and looked semicontentedly through the
french window. In The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde had spoken of
that little patch of blue that prisoners call the sky; and Morse now
contemplated that little patch of green that owners of North Oxford
flats are wont to call the garden. Flowers had always meant something to
Morse, even from his schooldays. Yet in truth it was more the
nomenclature of the several species, and their context in the works of
the great poets, that had compelled his imagination: fast-fading
violets, the globed peonies, the fields of asphodel . . . Indeed Morse
was fully aware of the etymology and the mythological associations of
the asphodel, although quite certainly he would never have recognized
one of its kind had it flashed across a Technicolor screen.

It was still true though: as men grew older (so Morse told himself) the
delights of the natural world grew ever more important. Not just the
flowers, either. What about the birds?

Morse had reached the conclusion that if he were to be reincarnated (a
prospect which seemed to him most blessedly remote), he would register
as a part-time Quaker and devote a sizeable quota of his leisure hours
to ornithology. This latter decision was consequent upon his
realization, however late in the day, that life would be significantly
impoverished should the birds no longer sing. And it was for this reason
that, the previous week, he had taken out a year's subscription to
Birdwatching; taken out a copy of the RSPB's Birdwatchers' Guide from
the Summertown Library; and purchased a secondhand pair of 152/1000m
binoculars (#9.90) that he'd spotted in the window of the Oxfam Shop
just down the Banbury Road. And to complete his program he had called in
at the Summertown Pet Store and taken home a small wired cylinder packed
with peanuts--a cylinder now suspended from a branch overhanging his
garden. From the branch overhanging his garden.

He reached for the binoculars now and focused on an interesting specimen
pecking away at the grass below the peanuts: a small bird, with a
greyish crown, dark-brown bars across the dingy russet of its back, and
paler underparts. As he watched, he sought earnestly to memorize this
remarkable bird's characteristics, so as to be able to match its
variegated plumage against the appropriate illustration in the Guide.

Plenty of time for that though.

He leaned back once more and rejoiced in the radiant warmth of
Schwarzkopf's voice, following the English text that lay open on his
lap: "You holy Art, when all my hope is shaken . . ."

When, too, a few moments later, his mood of pleasurable melancholy was
shaken by three confident bursts on a front-door bell that to several of
his neighbors sounded considerably over-decibeled, even for the

From the Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Colin Dexter lives in Oxford, England. He has won many awards for his novels, including the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding achievements in crime literature--the equivalent of a lifetime achievement Edgar Award. This is the thirteenth and final Inspector Morse novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Remorseful Day (Inspector Morse Series #13) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
EJW More than 1 year ago
Like anyone you've become close to you hate to see them die. In this case through many volumes I became almost his second sergeant after Lewis. Watching him do his cross word puzzles and having a pint with him I am sorry to lose my fellow in crime detection. He was true to his character right to the end. Rest in peace my good friend. This final is a must read and one of the best in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly loved this series!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Colin Dexter for a fitting end to Inspector Morse. It was really a thrilling read with all its red herrings and loose ends tied up at the satisfying conclusion. The tender affection between Morse and Lewis, master and student, was very moving. I truly admire Dexter for providing sensitive and appropriate closure for his readers who will truly grieve the loss but will be comforted by the respect and integrity of this great fictional hero rivaling, even surpassing Sherlock Holmes.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To say this book was an excellent read says little. Colin Dexter remains true to a character, who has become much more than that, to the end. Dreading the loss this book brings did not stop it from being the consistent page turner one has come to expect from a Morse Mystery. Morse's strengths and vulnerabilities are as evident as always despite his health not being such. This brings a smile to know that, with some, the mind is not always the first to go. One of the things we readers take for granted is that characters we love live on in the printed word. Colin Dexter delivers a dose of reality even in the world of fiction. While I grieve, it is the mark of a an excellent writer to know when the run has been a good one. I recommend it highly.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book in London in March of 1999. It is one of the best Morse novels he has written. Hope you will enjoy it when it finally comes to the US.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not his best, but still worth reading.
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CorkieK More than 1 year ago
The final chapter was shocking but exciting! I thoight so many people could have killed the victim,, but was pleased at the outcome. Author is an excellent storyteller and what a mystery writer! you will enjoy this book greatly!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I heard of Inspector Morse was on an A&E movie based on the book titled 'Way Through the Woods.' The story and characters were wonderful and I was hooked! I have enjoyed 'Remorseful Day' so much that I will have to go and hunt down all the past story lines I have missed. And I look forward to catching some more Inspector Morse on A&E! Bravo to Colin Dexter!
Guest More than 1 year ago
You don't just read an Inspector Morse novel because of the contents, but also for the language, the play of words, the wonderfully exquisite prose, and the affable characterization of Morse and his faithful Sgt. Lewis. Together they make a wonderful pair of detectives, each complementing the other in terms of character and habits. The more you read into the book, the more you start liking Morse and Lewis. And the best part of these books...? Morse makes mistakes, like you and me! Alas, this is the last in the series, where the Inspector passes away into realms of yonder (thanks to his fondness for a tipple)... but in detective lore, Inspector Morse will live on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This 13th and last Inspector Morse book was my first, although I expect I will have to read them all now! While there are so many good things to say about this book, I think the ending was superb -- especially considering that the author says this is the last book of the series. I also love it when a book expands my vocabulary, as this one did. I learned five or six new words reading this delightful book. I have also started using the Oxford comma again. This mystery is a must read for fans of the genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is a classic puzzle, perhaps too much so. The ending pages are pure Golden Age. Otherwise it is Morse as before. Over the years, especially from the times of Nicholas Quinn and Service for All Dead, the quality of mystery has gone down. Still one just does not read a Morse book for the mystery only (rather repetitive in this case) but for the language and the interaction between Morse and Lewis. In that area Dexter does not disappoint. Worth a read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wherever Morse goes from here, we'll presumably never know, but it has been a delight knowing him and his sidekick Lewis and following their leads and theories and investigations. This final mystery winds into many alleys and dead ends, with plenty of opportunities for anticipating a solution that never seems to come. It's loaded with suspects and possibilities, but it is not until the final few pages that everything is revealed with a series of surprises that were unanticipated. Morse's taste for bitter and Glenfidditch keeps him running as he stays a step ahead of Lewis who breaks out on his own and usually foots the bill for Morse's thirst. The quotations heading each chapter and Morse's linguisitic hangups add to the reader's delight.I'm going to miss old Morse and raise him a glass in farewell.