Latest in ever-popular and consistently acclaimed Dalziel & Pascoe series: ‘Reginald Hill stands head and shoulders above any other writer of homebred crime fiction’ Tom Hiney, Observer
In T.L. Beddoes’ play Death’s Jest-Book, the dead won’t lie still in the grave and the living often wish they could. And Reginald Hill’s novel is much the same – except perhaps for a few more jests.
The dead-pan joker, Franny Roote, is working on his dead friend’s unfinished biography of Beddoes, and with unfinished business between himself and DCI Pascoe to deal with as well. Three times Pascoe has been wrong about Roote. This time he’s determined to leave no grave-stone unturned as he tries to prove that the ex-con and aspiring academic is mad, bad and dangerous to know. Meanwhile, Edgar Wield, Quixote-like, rides to the rescue of a child in danger, and finds he’s got a rent-boy under his wing. In return, the boy tips him off about the heist of a pricesless treasure, and soon Wieldy’s torn between protecting the boy and doing his duty.
His superiors might have worries, but DC Hat Bowler’s looking forward to a blissful New Year with the girl of his dreams. The trouble is that that girl is Rye Pomona and her dreams are filled with a horror too terrible to tell – even though Charley Penn throws all his energies into trying to do exactly that.
And over all this activity broods the huge form of Mid-Yorkshire CID’s First Mover, DS Andy Dalziel. As trouble builds, the Fat Man discovers (as many deities before him) that omniscience can be more trouble than its worth, and that sometimes all omnipotence means is that you can have any colour you like, as long as it’s black.