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
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.
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.
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.
Read an Excerpt
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,
whenThe Archers overa 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 Oxfordthe 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, Viennathe 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 feveronly thirty-one.
Not much of an innings, was itthirty-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 peanutsa 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 hard-of-hearing.