on 5 September 2000
'Remorseful Day' is two stories. The first is the tale of a murder involving a nurse who is too familar with her patients. She has a history with Morse and his connection with the murder is a major theme although, as usual, there are many twists before the solution at the end. This is also Morse's farewell.'Remorseful Day' also describes Morse winding down his life , settling his affairs even though he has no reason to believe that his end is approaching.It is a very poignent book, especially for those who have come to know Morse. His passing will be mourned.
As he brings his thirteen-volume Inspector Morse series (and his own writing career) to a poignant close with this 1999 novel, author Colin Dexter selects the title of this final book from an A. E. Housman poem, which celebrates the brilliance of sunrise and the sad inevitability of sunset--an appropriate symbol of the passage of time, an image of life and death, and a play on Morse's name. Here Dexter reveals far more about Chief Inspector Morse than in any of his previous novels, as Morse faces an especially complex and difficult case, at the same time that he is privately dealing with health issues.
A gruff and uncompromising man of unquestioned integrity and honesty, Morse is a music buff with a love for literature and syntax, a man who frequently corrects the grammatical errors of Sgt. Lewis, his loyal, hard-working, and less educated assistant. Suffering from "indigestion" and diabetes, Morse blithely ignores the dietary regimen recommended by his doctors, experimenting with his insulin dosage while continuing to indulge his love of scotch whisky, both at home and in local pubs, where he and the tee-totalling Lewis often conduct their interviews.
In this case, Morse surprises Sgt. Lewis by being less than enthusiastic about investigating a "cold case," a murder the previous year of a nurse, Yvonne Harrison, who was found handcuffed, gagged, and nude in her bed. Morse knew Yvonne when he himself was hospitalized, and Sgt. Lewis begins to suspect, for the first time ever, that Morse may be hiding information about the case, for his own reasons. Lewis continues to investigate as conscientiously as he can, mostly on his own, though this case, with its unusually large number of suspects, possible motives, red herrings, additional murders, wrong turns, financial maneuverings, and missing evidence, is one that cries out for better cooperation between Morse and Lewis.
Ultimately tying up all the loose ends and resolving the issue of Morse's honesty, Dexter creates dramatic and moving scenes, showing the depth of the unexpressed feelings between Morse and Lewis and their respect for each other. For the first time, Morse reveals his vulnerability, and Lewis, seeing this, becomes stronger and more self-confident. Always concerned with bringing about justice and protecting those who are innocent, Morse, despite appearances, obeys his personal code throughout this valedictory novel, leaving a lasting legacy for the lovers of this series.
on 7 October 2001
After so many wonderful Inspector Morse stories, The Remorseful Day is somewhat of a letdown, and somehow incredibly sad, lacking a feel-good factor at the end. This may be due to the fact that this is Morse's swan song and we say farewell to the crotchety policeman at the end of this story, or it might be because throughout this case he comes across as just plain irritable and uncaring. Also, the characters are mostly unlikeable and it is hard to care what happens to them or if their killer is brought to justice.
The first victim is an elderly university professor who is the client of a young prostitute. This girl has left home to get away from her abusive stepfather, who was also supplying drugs to students at the university where he worked as a porter on the same landing as the first victim. And so this circle continues , taking in side plots and lots of twists and turns, until sometimes I had to rewind the tape in order to try to understand what was going on, and the relationship between the different characters which became blurred at times. The end, when it finally came, in more ways
than one, was something of an anticlimax and for real fans of the Morse stories, a bit unbelievable. Colin Dexter probably felt that it was time to kill off his hero but I couldn't help feeling that the laconic, no-nonsense, intelligent Morse would rather have gone with a pint of real ale in his hand, or be written off in his red Jaguar.
The other comment I have about this tape is, that although Kevin Whately's reading is excellent, it is really difficult to get used to Morse's character with his strong accent. I am so used to John Thaw playing Morse on television and that is the voice I expect, or at least one with a soft southern accent,and when Morse says something with a Newcastle accent, albeit softened, it just doesn,t fit the bill.
All in all a bit of a disappointment, but it won't deter me from listening to other Inspector Morse books.