Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Possibly the best Dalziel and Pascoe
on 22 June 2014
I was trawling Amazon to find Dalziel and Pascoe novels to complete my collection and couldn't believe this book had only one review, so here goes...Reginald Hill was a great writer, much more complex and far more interesting than most of the current male British crime novelists and this is one of his best; certainly his most charming.
This novel has shades of Jane Austen of all things: a bucolic village filled with residents whose characters are slowly revealed amidst the central storyline. The story starts with a reports of a missing village bobby. The phlegmatic Sergeant Wield is sent to investigate and finds himself is slowly seduced by villagers' charms. While Wield takes centre stage for a change, Dalziel and Pascoe soon show up, with Andy unsurprisingly already familiar with the pub landlord. He also puts the summers spent at his Presbyterian Granny's to good use by sparring with the local baker/religious zealot and earning himself some quality baked goods with his intimate knowledge of biblical text. While the three cops unravel the case of the missing bobby, it seems that they will be unable to help the village overcome its real threat and the final scenes are magnificent - tense, colourful, surprising and witty.
The novel has an added bonus for me - no Ellie Pascoe, the only character I find annoying (and to be fair she is less annoying in the later books than the earlier novels). Giving Wield more of a central role is also welcome - he's such an excellent character - and this book gives him a new direction in his life outside the police, as well as an amusing and formidable adversary in the form of Edwin Digweed.
I miss Reginald Hill and it makes me sad to think that his books may be read less now that he has passed away. With no new novels, and therefore no publicity, people may be less inclined to pick up these books. This would be a mistake. Hill is magnificent - the only male British crime writer to equal the holy (female) trinity of Rendell, James and McDermid. His books are fiercely intelligent but also lightly written, and they are both wise and witty. Most male British writers now produce novels with clichéd mavericks always on the verge of suspension and/or alcoholism. Throw in few ramblings about an obscure musical genre and you pretty much have the cop-by-numbers that constitutes most male crime fiction. Dalziel, Pascoe and Wield are far more complex and interesting - give them a go.
If you are thinking of reading and Dalziel and Pascoe, get some earlier ones and get to know the characters. When you have become familiar with them, read this - it's sublime.