Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Closing the case on Morse
John Thaw: Synonymous with his Morse TV character
Inspector Morse investigates his last murder with the publication of the final book about the famous fictional Oxford detective.
But devotees hoping for a possible comeback from The Remorseful Day will be sorely disappointed - the sour-faced sleuth dies.
After 24 years, 13 novels, 32 TV specials and almost 80 deaths, Morse's author Colin Dexter says he's tired of the character and it's time to put him to rest - forever.
Enough is enough
The 68-year-old writer was at Waterstone's new bookstore in London's Piccadilly to watch the first volumes of his last Morse work hit the shelves.
"I'm naturally saddened to take leave of the melancholy, sensitive, vulnerable, independent, ungracious, mean-pocketed Morse. He has lived with me now for more than a quarter of a century and I shall miss him sadly," he said.
But he went on: "With the body count in books and on TV now risen to almost 80, Oxford has become the murder capital of the UK, and the time has come to put an end to this."
Actor John Thaw, who has played the opera-loving detective since the first TV film in 1987, cut short his holiday to attend the launch.
He said he hoped to star in an adaptation of The Remorseful Day but then that would be that.
"It is a great pity that the old chap's got to go. I will be as sad as a lot of viewers. If Colin Dexter says Morse is dead that is good enough for me. I would not make any more films about Morse after his death," he said.
And after much pre-launch speculation, Dexter was surprisingly open about how the "old chap" actually does meet his end.
After toying with all manner of send-offs for his hero, including retirement and marriage, Dexter said death from the effects of diabetes and years of unhealthy living seemed the only viable option.
In chapter 74 of the new book, Morse falls into a diabetic coma at home but manages to dial 999 after briefly regaining consciousness.
Chapter 75 sees Morse's condition "critical but stable" and shortly after a glass of his beloved whisky he whispers to the nurse: "Thank Lewis for me" - words she fails to hear.
The Remorseful Day also sees the detective reluctant to reopen an unsolved murder case - perhaps leading some readers to suspect that he is implicated in the death.
Continuing on to the end however is the only way to find out.
The audio version of The Remorseful Day, read by Kevin Whately - who plays Lewis in the TV shows - is also now on sale.
Filming for the ITV adaptation of the book starts next spring with transmission set for the autumn.
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