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. . . .
The first Inspector Morse novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, appeared a quarter-century ago. This finale to a grand series presents a moving elegy to one of mystery fiction's most celebrated and popular characters. The murder of nurse Yvonne Harrington two years earlier remains unsolved, but the Oxford police receive an anonymous tip that prompts them to revive their investigation. Morse's superior, Chief Superintendent Strange, wants him to take over the case, but Morse is stubbornly and curiously reluctant to do so. Morse's faithful dogsbody, the long-suffering Sergeant Lewis, is left wondering whether Morse himself is some how connected to the crime, since the inspector had encountered the murder victim during a stay in the hospital. It falls to Lewis to do most of the delving, with Morse prompting him along the way. The case seems impenetrable until the murder of burglar Harry Repp - though what could be the connection to the original murder? Lewis continues to probe while Morse remains his oracular self. Dexter has fashioned another brilliantly intricate puzzle, one of his finest, with the valedictory tone of the highest possible note, perfectly pitched. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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January 29, 2001
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Excerpt from The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter
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, w