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The Stranger House [Hardcover]

Reginald Hill
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 July 2005

A stunning new psychological thriller set in past and present-day Cumbria from the award-winning author of the Dalziel and Pascoe series

Things move slowly in the tiny village of Illthwaite, but that's about to change with the arrival of two strangers. Sam Flood is a young Australian post-grad en route to Cambridge. Miguel Madero is a Spanish historian in flight from a priests' seminary. They have nothing in common and no connection, except that they both want to dig up bits of the past that some people would rather keep buried.

Sam is looking for information about her grandmother who left Illthwaite courtesy of the child migrant scheme four decades earlier. The past Mig is interested in is more than four centuries old. They meet in the village pub, The Stranger House, remnant of the old Illthwaite Priory. They don't take to each other. Sam believes that anything that can't be explained by maths isn't worth explaining; Mig sees ghosts; Sam is a fun-loving, experienced young woman; Mig is a 26-year-old virgin. But once their paths cross, they become increasingly entangled as they pursue what at first seem to be separate quests, finding out the hard way who to trust and who to fear in this ancient village whose lines of power run from Illthwaite Hall, home of the Catholic Woollasses.

The action is fast, there are clashes physical and metaphysical, and shocks natural and supernatural, as the tension mounts to an explosive climax. But fans of Reginald Hill's books will not be surprised to find a few laughs along the way. And very old fans might even recognise a ghost from the very distant past!

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First edition edition (4 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007194811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007194810
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,074,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Reginald Hill is a native of Cumbria and former resident of Yorkshire, the setting for his novels featuring Superintendent Dalziel and DCI Pascoe. Their appearances have won him numerous awards including a CWA Gold Dagger and Lifetime Achievement award. They have also been adapted into a hugely popular BBC TV series.

Product Description


‘Good Morning Midnight is a real treat. The characters are deftly drawn, the plot constantly delivers surprises and the assured narrative demonstrates again what a terrific writer he is’ Peter Guttridge, Observer

‘As absorbing and as enjoyable as anything Reginald Hill has produced. The writing is brilliant, witty and erudite’ TJ Binyon, Evening Standard

‘Few writers in the genre today have Hill’s gifts: formidable intelligence, quick humour, compassion and a prose style that blends elegance and grace’ Donna Leon, Sunday Times

‘The fertility of Hill’s imagination, the range of his power, the sheer quality of his literary style never cease to delight’ Val McDermid, Sunday Express

‘Probably the best living male crime writer in the English-speaking world’ Andrew Taylor, Independent

‘Reginald Hill’s novels are really dances to the music of time, his heroes and villains interconnecting, their stories entwining’ Ian Rankin, Scotland on Sunday

About the Author

Reginald Hill was brought up in Cumbria, and has returned there after many years in Yorkshire. With his first crime novel, A Clubbable Woman, he was hailed as ‘the crime novel’s best hope’ and twenty years on he has more than fulfilled that prophecy.

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On July 8th, 1992, a small girl woke up in her bed in her family house in the Australian state of Victoria and knew exactly who she was. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INTRICATELY PLOTTED, COMPELLING NOVEL... 20 Oct 2005
This is a marvelous and beautifully realized work of fiction. As someone who enjoys mysteries, as well as historical fiction and gothic novels of suspense, I was quite taken with this book. Intricately plotted, the book is clever in its premise. Two disparate human beings, a highly independent, red-headed slip of a woman, Samantha Flood, Australian by birth, and a serious, fervently religious Spaniard, Miguel Madero, who is half-English, find themselves thrust together, as each explores the tiny, remote Cumbrian village of Illthwaite in England, looking for answers to their individual quests. Both are in Illthwaite to get information relative to that which each is seeking. Both are staying in the local inn, called The Stranger House.
This book has well-drawn characters that come alive under the author's expert hand. The plot is unusual, as well as complex, containing many layers that the discerning reader will enjoy exploring. Well-written, as well as intricately plotted, this book crosses a number of genres. With its supernatural portents, historical underpinnings, underlying mystery, as well as its gothic type suspense and sensibilities, infused with just a dollop of romance, this book will appeal to those readers who favor these genres. In particular, I found the parts of the book that transcended into historical fiction to be the most compelling. This is not a book for everyone, but to those for whom its themes have inherent appeal, it is a book to be relished.
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84 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stranger House, Reginald Hill 20 Jun 2005
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Two strangers come to the isolated village of Illthwaite, two strangers with history to explore and secrets to overturn. Sam Flood, a young Australian destined for Cambridge, is searching for information about her grandmother, deported from the village as a child four decades ago. Miguel - Mig - Madero, who became a historian after his flight from a Spanish seminary, has come in search of an ancestor last seen setting sail with the Armada in 1588.

The two first cross-paths staying at The Stranger House, the eerie village Inn that's as hostile as it is hospitable, full of people who conceal as much as they reveal. They do not, at first, hit it off. And here we have our first display of one of the novel's underlying aspects: the conflict between logic, reason (Sam is a mathematician) and spirituality. As the two characters look to seek out and overturn histories long buried, the novel floods with the mystical and mythical, the seemingly inexplicable happenstances of the past, made even worse by the dissonance between what people say occurred and why and the reality. It's only when the two warm to one another that things, for both of them, start to unravel and make sense. Understanding the past, Hill hints, requires an open viewpoint, a mix of filters.
Both strangers in a strange land, their senses of isolation, of being an outsider, are at times extreme. Especially when people are not being straight with them. Outright denial of a person's existence is negated when Sam unearths a gravestone in the local church, complete with the person's engraved name. It's first in a long line of uncovered deceptions. The people of Illthwaite, it is clear, do not want to be open. And those who do wish to be open are suspicious at best.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Ripping Yarn 31 July 2005
By A Customer
I have been a fan of Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe books for some time, and have recently read several of his earlier works, some written while he was honing his craft.
Some of the earlier ones are patchy, but he has got better and better, and The Stranger House is brilliant
The Australian protagonist is perhaps a bit strong, but he has captured the essence of a type of feisty, no-nonsense character that does exist in that country, and she is funny, vulnerable and likeable. He draws on a real historical episode, which has caused enormous distress since it first came to light, and he shows great compassion.
The Spanish Catholic character is also seeking answers about a time of religious fanaticism and the cruelty it engendered, and also has a humanity that easily wins the reader's sympathy.
It is very much a book one reads to find out what happens next, while Hill does not put a foot wrong in his evocation of place and how the morality that exists at different times in history shapes the actions and reactions of people.
Five hundred years ago physical torture was state-sanctioned; as recently as the mid-twentieth century mental torture and sometimes physical abuse was still being inflicted on the helpless in the belief that it was in their best interest
Hill does not preach, but the lessons in the book are powerful and thuoght-provoking.
Above all, it is a ripping yarn, brilliantly told. I loved it.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Dickens? 6 Oct 2005
I loved The Stranger House. It has a large cast of interesting characters, a relentless plot, and a basis in the author's social outrage at his contemporaries' misconduct toward one another. Sounds like Dickens, doesn't it? And Mr. Hill has improved on (or at least modernized) Dickens by grounding an extremely elaborate plot, spanning many centures, squarely in human pyschology. In The Stranger House my credulity was not strained, as so often in Dickens, by coincidences and dei ex machina. And Mr. Hill's moral take on his characters reveals far more shades of gray than Dickens's more polarized characterizations.
I've been a fan of the Dalziel & Pascoes series for many years, and have long considered Mr. Hill the best crime writer in English today. (It denigrates his novels even to characterize them by genre.) But in The Stranger House, Mr. Hill has assumed the daunting mantle of Dickensian moral fiction, and achieved a triumph.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service
It arrived on time and was in unread condition, Not yet finished reading yet but seems interesting It is a book chosen by my local reading club
Published 2 months ago by edward w wortley
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Yarn
Griping story as always with this author.
Continually builds you up with suspense and guile finished off with a superb ending
Published 3 months ago by J G
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Hill Plot
Brilliant workmanship and plot development. We shall all miss his unmistakable brilliance in developing characters, the twists and turns and keeping one turning the pages.
Published 3 months ago by Mr. Barry Stoddard
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile read but a big long
This is set in a small village in Cumbria. A village where little has changed in centuries and the old families still exist (the Church, the big house, the pub, the smithy and the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Bob from Beds
5.0 out of 5 stars The Stranger House
This is an excellent read. It's not a Daziel and Pascoe which I'm not too fond of. I found this story line really compeling
Published 4 months ago by Beryl Powell
4.0 out of 5 stars Book reveive
Enjoying this book but have not finished reading it. I Enjoy this author and expect to continue enjoying this book by him. It is different!
Published 6 months ago by JoanB
1.0 out of 5 stars Implausible plot. A dreary tale
I bought this having just read the woodcutter which was an excellent read. Sadly this book was not of the same quality.
Published 6 months ago by Simone
3.0 out of 5 stars A stranger Tale
My first and only other book by Reginald Hill was The Woodcutter, a novel which I found totally flawless in every way. Read more
Published 9 months ago by K. Sewell
4.0 out of 5 stars Recipient pleased.
Bought as a present. The recipient seemed pleased with the book. There is little else I can say as I have not read the book! Prompt delivery.
Published 10 months ago by Victoria Devon
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing
I have recently discovered Reginald Hill's books and really enjoy his style, extensive background knowledge and his use of vocabulary. Read more
Published 10 months ago by sportyperson
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