THE REMORSEFUL DAY by Colin Dexter
If you’re like me and count the days (which are actually months or years), until the next book in the particular series that you’re reading, there’s something to be said for going back and re-reading that series, chronologically, from the very beginning. This works particularly well if the series is complete, finished, with no further episodes to be written. This is what I recently did with Dexter’s Inspector Morse series. With only 13 books in the series, it certainly wasn’t an onerous undertaking.
What I gained by reading these books back-to-back, was a new appreciation for Dexter’s cunning and brilliance at creating this much-loved character (characters if you count Lewis – and one should!). With each successive book Morse moves from a one-dimensional character to someone full-formed. The reader begins to understand how his mind works and how his history has shaped him into the person he has become.
In The Remorseful Day, Morse is both at his finest and at his worst. His mind is still so very sharp as his body begins to fail him. But Morse certainly doesn’t fail those with whom he’s worked so closely with over all the years of his career. In fact, he does the opposite – he saves them.
In reference to this final Morse novel, Beryl Bainbridge says: “What construction! What skill! Why isn’t this author ever on the Booker shortlist?” Yes – he should have been, for this is truly a brilliant piece of writing.