on 28 February 2000
Never before has an author moved me with a single word. Yet the end of this final Morse mystery reduced me to tears. A fitting end to a remarkable career, for Morse, and for the series of books that allowed us to follow his life of crime-solving. This book drew together the relationships Morse had with those around him, the effect he had on the lives of others, and a side to him that had only before been hinted at. If the end of this book is anything to go by, Colin Dextor is as upset at losing Morse as his fans are, for never has a farewell to a character felt so poignant. By far and away, the most moving novel I have ever read.
on 24 September 1999
This is the final Inspector Morse novel. I read all of them and they were all excellent. This book is about Morse's last case, he solves it as always with Sergeant Lewis's help. But the case itself is not what really matters here: it is the MAN himself with all his little faults, his drinking problem, his unhappy love-affairs; the man who loves Wagner and enjoys driving his Jag; the 'loyal, honest policeman. Morse and Lewis, you both are leaving a big wide void and we'll miss you very much. THANK YOU and GOODBYE!
on 28 November 1999
A classic story. Some elements seemed to have come from previous Morse novels, this did not detract from the story line. As usual I tried to solve the mystery along with Morse ,Lewis and Strange.I knew it was the final Morse mystery but I still cried. It is at least ten years since a book has moved me to tears.
Occasionally a book transcends its genre boundaries, and this is one such novel. A detective story with many twists and turns as a series of suspects are thought likely to be the multiple killer, but then evidence emerges to send Morse and Lewis back to square one. In a Prolegomenon [the book is chock-full of exotic and little used words such as this; some readers will probably regard this as pedantry, but for me it is one of the attractions of the series], an unnamed nurse and her patient are engaging in mild flirtation.
As the story opens, a promiscuous nurse, Yvonne Harrison, has been found murdered and naked, gagged and handcuffed by her banker husband. Soon other murders follow and the indications are that there is a common link. The victims are a criminal just released from prison, an ex-taxi-driver and a builder and decorator. At first, Morse is adamant that he will not assist his superior, Chief Superintendent Strange, in reopening the Harrison case after when little or no progress is to be seen, but he and Morse do participate when the later murders begin to mount up. However, Lewis seems to have less idea of what his boss is up to [as he exercises his ‘thinking laterally, vertically, and diagonally’] than is usually the case. Here and throughout, Dexter loves his Oxford commas.
The novel proceeds at a gallop with each of its eighty short chapters introduced by an fragment of text, biblical or poetic verse or a quotation, most of which relate to the chapter contents. These also contain ample references to Morse’s love of crosswords and distaste for poor grammar and spelling, much supplied by Lewis.
Morse, heavy drinking and inattentive to his diabetes [he ‘devised a carefully calibrated dosage that exactly counterbalanced his considerable intake of alcohol.’], is heavily overweight. At the age of only 58, he remains relatively unapproachable, ‘curmudgeonly, miserly, oddly vulnerable.’ At home he listens to his beloved composers – Schubert and Wagner, occasionally reads and telephones his colleagues, especially Lewis, with ideas for the investigation – his inability to control all the lines of investigation himself is another oblique indication of his failing health.
The relationship between Morse and Lewis is deeply touching, especially as the younger man’s concerns for his superior’s health grow. At one point the reader sees Lewis attempting, successfully, to pursue the investigation through following Morse’s own process of asking the right questions to obtain the right answers. However, towards the end, Lewis becomes disillusioned by what he sees as Morse’s less than professional behavior in compromising the investigation for personal reasons, and is even more determined than ever to solve the murders and show his boss what he can do. The end is beautifully and very sensitively crafted, with a final twist thrown in for good measure. Other members of the Thames Valley CID are described, but in general serve as foils for Morse’s spleen and Lewis’ jealousy. The Oxford location is lovingly described, as it has been throughout the series.
By the end of this longish book the reader has seen a side of Morse very different from his usual hectoring and arrogance – a lonely man aware that he has been denied any lasting relationships and looking towards his demise with bravery and humour. Beryl Bainbridge is quoted as saying ‘What construction! What skill! Why isn’t this author ever on the Booker shortlist?’ In the opinion of some it is because he writes unworthy, non-literary detective stories. But may Booker Prize winners could learn from Dexter’s characters, scene-setting and very inventing plotting. Superb.
on 29 July 2000
To Inspector Morse fans and other knowledgeable readers, clearly the "outcome" of the venerable--but irascible--detective should be known. The book's been on the shelves long enough for the word to have gotten around. It's his swan song; author Colin Dexter says "adieu" to the series, and readers move on.
That said, "The Remorseful Day" perhaps should have read, "The Remorseful Series," as, indeed, Dexter has chosen a most apt ending for his parade of intriguing, exciting, and most worthwhile "cases." Certainly his bread and butter, the Morse series has given Dexter a most respected name in this genre and naturally it is with some sadness that we view the finale.
As such, perhaps, Dexter does not give us his best book; he didn't save the best for last. However, it seems that was not his intention. Dexter, in an interview on TV last year, indicated that "The Remorseful Day"was more a tribute to Morse than just another mystery in this popular series. Thus, he seems to give a valedictory to Morse as his primary concern and the mystery-storyline becomes secondary. He puts the final touches on Morse's character, and Morse can now "go gently into that good night."
The storyline is simple enough: a year-old murder of Yvonne Harrison is re-opened and Morse is reluctant to head the investigation; between Supt. Strange and Sgt. Lewis, of course, Morse finally is "coaxed" to enter the picture. The plot spins along at a faster pace than Dexter usually employs; he now concentrates on putting the final (pun intended) touches to Morse. It is a brave adventure, knowing there are countless Morse fans and the slightest errant way will bring forth a reader revolution! In this book, Dexter dramatically displays his ability to control absolutely the tempo of the narrative and the reader finds a faster-paced work being slowed down by the reality of the situation: it is high drama without the melodrama; it is sadness, yet Dexter handles it with literary class. It is a tribute to a favorite character and one readers are not likely to forget.
It is Morse's trip to the Elyssian Fields--where else would he go?
on 30 May 2016
Great read if your enjoy the murder mystery genre. Nice and easy to read, great storyline with many twists & turns, if you have read any of Colin Dexter's books in the past and enjoyed them you will not be disappointed.
on 4 October 1999
I would like to contribute a transatlantic view of "The Remorseful Day". Of course, I could not wait for US publication, so thanks to Amazon UK I was able to be the first on my block to read this lovely book. I understand that some who read Dexter for the crime may find this book too low-key in that area, but as a reader more concerned with character, I found this book most satisfying. From the first page, an autumnal golden glow covers the action. We know that this is the last book, but the puzzle is whether or not Morse will find some measure of peace as he nears the end of his journey. Morse has always lived in his head, solving his cases as he solves his crosswords, with a mixture of instinct and his own private logic. Morse's logic may take him down some blind alleys before he sees the light in a case,but his instinct is what usually find the truth. Anyone who loves music, Morrells and Glenfiddich must have the soul of an artist.In the end, he seems to have resolved the tug between his intellect and his softer side. He may not go gently, but he seems ready, for he has done the right thing. He has been blessed with good friends in Strange and Lewis. He will be remembered and mourned as he wished. By the last page, the reader, like Lewis, will know that there is a hole in his soul which will never be filled. Thank you, Colin Dexter, and may you enjoy many golden autumn days in that most beautiful of cities, Oxford.
Chief Inspector Morse, the archetypal curmudgeonly detective, music lover, functioning alcoholic who rarely buys a round, despiser of physical exercise, incurable romantic, and a constant irritant to his superiors, solves his last case in this novel by his typically unorthodox methods. It is a murder committed a year ago and initially investigated by Morse's superior, Chief Superintendent Strange, but still unsolved. Strange reopens the investigation when he receives a letter about the case saying that a prisoner due to be released `should be watched'. Morse is initially very reluctant to take the case, something that intrigues Morse's assistant, Sergeant Lewis, but has no choice when the man is murdered soon after he leaves prison, and this is followed shortly afterwards by the murder of someone else who was also a suspect at the time of the original investigation. As usual, Morse starts by getting some things wrong, while at the same time stubbornly holding to his main deductions, despite strong evidence to the contrary. Eventually his conclusions about the murders are of course proved right, although too late for Morse. Only in the final few pages is the explanation of why Morse was reluctant to take the case revealed to Lewis by Strange, and a new light is thereby shed on Morse's character.
This is a typical Morse novel (apart from the fate of Morse!), and none the worse for that. There is the usual sparring between Morse and Lewis about the minutiae of grammar and other pedantic matters, interwoven with the patient methodic detective work of Lewis and the quixotic leaps of the imagination of Morse, the latter leading to several false trails. The interaction of both with the other characters, such as Strange, the pub landlord, and the family of the murdered woman are well described, believable and not without humour. The format, many very short chapters, may not be to everyone's liking, but I found it increased the pace. Perhaps the final solution is a little too drawn out, but clever nonetheless. This may not be the best of the Morse novels, but still well worth reading.
It was pleasing that Morse's last case is published in a fine format that I am sure he would have approved - good quality paper, clear font, interesting quotations at the head of chapters, and even an integral fabric bookmark.
on 3 March 2001
Wonderful. the best Morse novel i have read (and i have read all of them) The plot is genuinely very intriguing, possibbly lacking in suspects though.
There is something about this novel, i just cannot place it. he does the characters in more depth than usual, and centres a little more (if possible!) on the characters of Morse and Lewis.
This is way, way, way better than the television adaptation. it is mroe relistic, and to be put on tv they had to remove many of the moct central parts of the plot. When viewing it i was highly disappoined. The people who reviewed it would have thought twice about praising it so highly had they read the book first!
There are other reasons why this book is Dexter's masterpiece, the plot, as with many of his books, is not unnecesarily complicated, and in many way's it seems to flow more. I Sped through this book in a day can you beieve, when a dexter would normally take me 2 or 3.
I even found myself shedding a tear at poor dear Morse's demise. The television adaptation again insufficiently brings this across. It would have been a lot better had they adapted it to fit two 2 hour slots. I find myself devouring every word, every sentence in the last 30 pages hitting me like a brick. If u have seen the tv version and not read the book, shame on you, you should have. If u have read the book and the tv version, you will know what i am talking about.
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. genuiniely very sad.
on 17 October 1999
Unfortunately, it was John Thaw himself who broke the news of Morse's passing to me on the radio, and I was determined not to find out why until I read the book. Last week I obtained a signed copy and read it every morning on my train journey into work. On Friday morning I was down to the last few pages choking back tears of my own. I think the story matters very little with this one, it is the interplay between the characters we are concerned with and Dexter does this extremely well here. He put alot of thought and attention to things, and to my mind didn't ruin the ending by doing something too corny (like promoting one of the main characters up through the ranks). Undoubtedly we will see this on television in the next few years, but read the book. The chapters are short and punchy, and I've always liked Dexter's quotations he manages to drag up to decorate his chapters with.