Read The Remorseful Day Online

Authors: Colin Dexter

The Remorseful Day

More praise for Colin Dexter and
The Remorseful Day

“Dexter gives fans plenty of reasons to mourn the series' end, since this 13 th volume about the grammatically correct, lovelorn, poetry-quoting Oxford police officer is as strong as any before.”


Boston Herald

“The finish to what has been for me the most nearly perfect series of detective works … Dexter's prose and plotting have been models of concision and consistency.”


The Raleigh News & Observer

“Once again, Dexter has written a classy, clever mystery that wraps itself around realistic yet intriguing characters and has all the muddled trappings of real life.”


San Jose Mercury News

“A worthy conclusion to a fine series. Dexter, known for his extraordinarily literate prose and eye for detail, is at the top of his game.”


Richmond Times-Dispatch

“BRILLIANTLY REALIZED … ONE OF THE MOST ORIGINAL, ENDEARING, AND CONSISTENTLY REWARDING DETECTIVE SERIES.”


Kirkus Reviews
(starred review)

“Oh what a swan song [for a] brilliant and irascible detective.”


Orlando Sentinel

“You don't really know Morse until you've read him. …Viewers who have enjoyed British actor John Thaw as Morse in the PBS Mystery! anthology series should welcome the deeper character development in Dexter's novels.”


Chicago Sun-Times

“It is a delight to watch this brilliant, quirky man deduce.”


Minneapolis Star & Tribune

“This finale to a grand series presents a moving elegy to one of mystery fiction's most celebrated and popular characters…. Dexter has fashioned another brilliantly intricate puzzle, one of his finest.… Morse leaves us on the highest possible note, perfectly pitched.”


Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“POIGNANT … SURPRISINGLY
EMOTIONAL … DEXTER GIVES
HIS HERO A FITTING FAREWELL.”

Lexington Herald-Ledger

“Dexter mixes clever misdirection and old-fashioned deduction with subtle emotion in ways that have come to seem unique…. [A] strong and poignant finale to a series that has earned its place among modern detective fiction's classics.”

—OC
Metro

“The Remorseful Day
marks the end of an era … [Morse] has been a brilliant, irascible favorite for years. … A fitting tribute to a detective who pleased the mind and senses.”


San Antonio Express-News

“Few fictional detectives since the days of Nero Wolfe and Hercule Poirot could muster the sheer brainpower of Chief Inspector Morse.”


The Seattle Times

“The Remorseful Day
shows Morse at his best…. The perfect way to end a remarkable run.”


The Register-Herald

By Colin Dexter

LAST BUS TO WOODSTOCK
LAST SEEN WEARING
THE SILENT WORLD OF NICHOLAS QUINN
SERVICE OF ALL THE DEAD
THE DEAD OF JERICHO
THE RIDDLE OF THE THIRD MILE
THE SECRET OF ANNEXE 3
THE WENCH IS DEAD
THE JEWEL THAT WAS OURS
THE WAY THROUGH THE WOODS
THE DAUGHTERS OF CAIN
DEATH IS NOW MY NEIGHBOR
MORSE'S GREATEST MYSTERY AND OTHER STORIES

Books published by The Ballantine Publishing Group are available at quantity discounts on bulk purchases for premium, educational, fund-raising, and special sales use. For details, please call 1-800-733-3000.

For
George, Hilary, Maria, and Beverley
(Please note the Oxford comma)

Acknowledgements

My special thanks are due, imprimis to Terry Benczik from New Jersey, for sending me so many apposite quotations; to Cyndi Cook from Hawaii, for singing to me as I wrote these chapters; to Allison Dexter, for sharing with me her expertise on coronary care; to Eddie Andrews, one of my former pupils, for initiating me (at last!) into some of the mysteries of the SOCOs; and to Chris Burt, producer of so many Morse episodes on TV, for his constant support and encouragement.

The author and publishers wish to thank the following who have kindly given permission for use of copyright materials:

Extracts from
More Poems
XLI,
More Poems
XVI, and
A Shropshire Lad
by A. E. Housman are reproduced by permission of The Society of Authors as the literary representative of the Estate of A. E. Housman.

Extract from
On the Dole in Darlington
by David Mackenzie is reproduced by permission of the author.

Extract from translation of An
Die Musik
by Basil Swift is reproduced by permission of the author.

Extract from
I'm a Stranger Here Myself
by Ogden Nash (from the collection
Candy is Dandy
, Andre Deutsch Ltd, Copyright © 1938 by Ogden Nash, Renewed) is reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown Ltd, Andre Deutsch Ltd, and Little, Brown and Company, Inc.

Extract from
Catch-22
by Joseph Heller is reproduced by permission of the author.

Extract from
The Fiddler of Dooney
by W. B. Yeats is reproduced by permission of A. P. Watt Ltd on behalf of Michael B. Yeats, and Simon & Schuster Inc.

Extract from
Come to Think of It
by G. K. Chesterton is reproduced by kind permission of A. P. Watt Limited on behalf of the Royal Literary Fund.

Extract from
Oxford
by Jan Morris is reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press.

Extract from
Lovelace Bleeding
by Roy Dean is reproduced by permission of the author.

Extract from
Nightwood
by Djuna Barnes is reproduced by permission of the author and Faber and Faber Ltd.

Every effort has been made to trace all copyright holders but if any has been inadvertently overlooked, the author and publishers will be pleased to make the necessary arrangement at the first opportunity.

Ensanguining the skies
How heavily it dies
Into the west away;
Past touch and sight and sound
Not further to be found
How hopeless under ground
Falls the remorseful day.

(A. E. Housman,
More Poems
, XVI)

When I wrote my 1997 letter I thought I had little to look forward to in 1998, but it turns out that I was stupidly optimistic.

(David Mackenzie,
On the Dole in Darlington
)

Prolegomenon

As o'er me now thou lean'st thy breast, With launder'd bodice crisply pressed, Lief I'd prolong my grievous ill

Wert thou my guardian angel still.

(Edmund Raikes, 1537-65,
The Nurse
)

“So I often hook my foot over the side of the mattress.”

“You
what
?”

“Sort of anchors me to my side of the bed.”

“Double bed?”

“Not unknown is it, for a married couple? People can share the same bed but not the same thoughts—old Chinese saying.”

“Still makes me jealous.”

“Idiot!”

“Everybody gets a bit jealous sometimes.”

“Not everybody.”

“Not you, nurse?”

“I've just learned not to show it, that's all. And it's none of your business in any case.”

“Sorry.”

“How I hate men who say ‘sorry'!”

“I promise not to say it again, miss.”

“And will you promise me something else? To be a bit more honest with yourself—and with me?”

“Scout's honor!”

“I can't believe you were ever in the Scouts.”

“Well, no, but…”

“Shall I test you?”

“Test me?”

“Would you like me to jump into bed with you
now?”

“Yes!”

“You're quick on the buzzer.”

“Next question?”

“Do you think
I'd
like to jump into bed with
you?”

“I'd like to think so.”

“What about the other patients?”

“You could draw the curtains.”

“What excuse… ?”

“You could always take my blood pressure.”

“Again?”

“Why not?”

“We know all about your blood pressure. High—very high—especially when I'm around.”

“It's those black stockings of yours.”

“You're a stocking-tops man!”

“Nice word, isn't it—stocking-tops?”

“If only you weren't stuck in this bloody ward!”

“I can always discharge myself.”

“Not a wise move, good sir—not in your case.”

“What time are you off duty?”

“Half-eight.”

“What'll you do then?”

“Off home. I'm expecting a phone call.”

“You're trying to make me jealous again.”

“After that, I suppose I'll just poke the thingummy, you know, around the four channels.”

“Five, now.”

“We don't get the new one.”

“What about Sky?”

“In
our
village, satellite dishes are most
definitely
discouraged.”

“You could always take a video home.”

“No need. We've got lots of videos. You should see some of them—you know, the sex ones.”

“You watch that sort of thing?”

“When I'm in the mood.”

“When's that?”

“Most of the time.”

“And even if you aren't in the mood?”

“Oh yes! They soon turn anybody on. Haven't you
seen some of these Amsterdam videos? All sorts of bizarre things they get up to.”

“I haven't seen them, no.”

“Would you like to?”

“I'm not quite sure I would, no.”

“Not even if you watched them with me?”

“Please, nurse, am I allowed to change my mind?”

“We could arrange a joint viewing.”

“How—how bizarre's bizarre?”

“Well, in one of ‘em there's this woman—about my age—lovely figure—wrists tied to the top of the four-poster bed—ankles tied to the bottom …”

“Go on.”

“Well, there's these two young studs—one black, one white—”

“No racial discrimination, then?”

“—and they just take turns, you know.”

“Raping her…”

“You're so
naive
, aren't you? She wouldn't have
been
in the bloody video, would she, if she didn't want to be? There
are
some people like her, you know. The only real sexual thrill they get is from some sort of submission—you know, that sort of thing.”

“Odd sort of women!”

“Odd? Unusual, perhaps, but…”

“How come you know so much about this?”

“When we were in Amsterdam, they invited me to do some porno filming. Frank didn't mind. They made a pretty good offer.”

“So you negotiated a fee?”

“Hold on! I only said this particular woman was
about
my age—”

“—and had a lovely figure.”

“Would you like to see if it
was
me?”

“One condition.”

“What's that?”

“If I come, you mustn't hook your foot over the side of the mattress.”

“Not much danger of that.”

“Stay with me a bit longer!”

“No. You're not my only patient, and some of these poor devils'll be here long after
you've
gone.”

“Will you come and give me a chaste little kiss before you go off duty?”

“No. I'm shooting straight back to Lower Swinstead. I told you: I'm expecting a phone call.”

“From … your husband?”

“You must be kidding! Frank's in Switzerland for a few days. He's far too mean to call me from there—even on the cheap rates.”

“Another man in your life?”

“Jesus! You don't take me for a dyke, do you?”

“You're an amazing girl.”

“Girl? I'll be forty-eight this Thursday.”

“Can I take you out? Make a birthday fuss of you?”

“No chance. According to your notes, you're going to be in at least till the end of the week.”

“You know, in a way, I wish I
could
stay in. Indefinitely.”

“Well, I promise one thing: as soon as you're out, I'll be in touch.”

“Please! If you can.”

“And you'll come and see me?”

“If you invite me.”

“I'm inviting you now.”

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