9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2004
I love the Dalziel and Pascoe novels and I like wallowing in the richness of Hill's prose style. I think recent books in the series have sometimes been unduly self-indulgent however, with the use of obscure literary references more as padding than to help the plot forward or illuminate character and incident.
Good Morning Midnight seemed to me a return to the powerful story-telling form of the earlier books, and I was riveted throughout the first 95% of the novel. I may be missing something but I thought that the end was a bit of a let-down; too many loose ends untied and flat scenes closing off alternative plot-lines. A really good journey though, with a slightly dissapointing destination.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2004
Although I wouldn't rate this quite as highly as some of the previous books - On Beulah Heights springs to mind - it was nevertheless a welcome return to form after the esoteric byways of Dialogues with the Dead and Death's Jest Book, entertaining though these companion works were. It's a relief to see the last of the irritating Frannie Roote. Reginald Hill seemed in danger of following a whimsical path that detracted from the accomplished writing that always exemplifies his work. He has developed marvellously over the years and I was delighted that Good Morning, Midnight sees him firmly back on track.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2007
If you are new to Reginald Hill's work, it would be better to start with one of his earlier books which introduce the detective duo of Dalziel and Pascoe. There are a lot of characters in this book, and it's only because most of the police officers have been featured in earlier books that you can keep track of them all.
Some fans may be glad to know that this book does not include the Gothic fantasy that marred his last couple of novels. The book is Hill's attempt at a locked room mystery, and it's ingenious and entertaining. The only problem is that it might not have been a good idea to tackle this element of the genre in a novel which is also attempting to give a response to 9/11. Hill has always included social comment in his work, but here he has had difficulty in integrating the political aspects with the family story.
However, some of the subplots are very funny. As other reviewers have pointed out, Hill has rejected the spare style and his descriptions are more vivid in consequence.
If you like open endings, especially with a cynical tone, then you may enjoy the ending, but if you prefer all the ends to be tied up as in a conventional detective story, you may find the ending dissatisfying.
34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
In the mythology of British crime fiction, Superintendent Andy Dalziel is Zeus. Like Dalziel ("Dee-el"), Zeus may not be as psychologically interesting as his two divine brothers (take Rebus as earth-shaker Poseidon, Allan Banks, tenuously, as Hades, if you'll allow me to overextend this metaphor), but he is far and away the most fun, the most colourful, the most entertaining. Dalziel, politically incorrect, [very] large, and in charge of Mid-Yorkshire CID, feared lord of all he surveys, has been around for 34 years now, and in that time has helped his author get an Edgar nomination, a Gold Dagger, and a well-deserved Diamond Dagger. Dalziel is imposing, brusque, and hides a razor-sharp mind behind his jocular, vulgar image. And now, after the very disappointing Death's Jest Book, he (and Hill) are firmly, very firmly, back on top of their form. It's been wonderful to see that Hill's best work has all been written since that Diamond Dagger win: his books of late have all tested the boundaries, have all been completely different from anything else available. You get the sense that he feels his career has been validated, and now he can really get down to having some proper fun and games with his characters and his readers.
The plot is relatively straightforward at first sight, but soon, through varied familial infighting and some dark outside influences, shows its true complexity. In 1992, Pal Maciver's father Pal Maciver commits suicide in a locked room. He shoots himself at his desk with a shotgun, trigger pulled by toe. Open on the desk, a book of poems by Emily Dickinson (this is the source of the novel's title.) Ten years later, in the same house which now lies empty, Pal himself commits suicide in exactly the same way. The very same book of poetry is even open at exactly the same page.
In each instance angry fingers point toward Pal's stepmother, the enchanting Kay Kafka (as you can see, Hill's love of weird names is on fine display again. Here there is not only an Ethelbert, but a Cressida, and "Pal" is short for Palinurus,) whom he held much animosity towards. But as Peter Pascoe begins to investigate, merely to ascertain that everything truly is as it seems, he comes to find that Kay has a formidable ally in the large shape of his boss, Andy Dalziel. What is the true nature of their relationship? As Pascoe digs deeper, he'll learn that Pal's suicide has implications far beyond Yorkshire. And also that for some people the heart too is a locked room, and there it is always midnight.
Firstly, let me admit to pilfering that last sentence from the book jacket. I thought it was marvellous. Secondly, let me jump up and down with glee that Hill is back on track with this fantastic book, another of his wonderful gothic tragi-comedies basted in literary influence. There's everything here from Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson to Homer's Odyssey, and the great thing is that if you recognise these references the quality ascends ever-higher but if you don't it doesn't actually matter, so subtly and unobtrusively does he apply them. These novels, this one in particular, are very learned and intelligent, but they wear it so lightly that if Hill chooses they can be rather light-hearted, shading the real darkness beneath and the serious comments he is making. It's absolutely hilarious, too. Hill has a sparkling wit which makes the book bounce along and the reader react with a kind of elated joy. It's not at all overt humour, but it makes this the most amusing crime novels I'll read this year. Hell, maybe even in several years. When he's on his best sly form, as here, there isn't a "humorous crime novelist" who can top him. Not a one.
His prose is also a joy - a sublime pleasure. At first it may seem wordy, until you see that it's overwritten and flamboyant for humour, and it works very well. Anyone who still thinks his style is wordy is wrong - what you are witnessing is the English language being used to its fullest potential and its most wicked and yet joyful. It's incredibly refreshing in a literary land where sparsity is praised above all else. Today there exists a kind of wasting disease which means that the language is being stripped right to its bones in some novels, because people don't recognise that telling your story with as few words as possible and telling your story without using unnecessary ones are just not the same thing. The latter means good writing, whatever the instance; the first is just a style no more valid than any other. Hill is a very welcome antithesis: you can always count on him to provide a book with plenty of meat on its bones.
Some of the dialogue is rather colloquial, which may not suit some American readers I suppose, but it's not too hard to figure out and I certainly wouldn't let myself be put off by it. Dalziel is a marvellous character, Pascoe a great foil for him, and Hill's other wide cast are great fun too. Good Morning, Midnight is a tremendously entertaining book that seems intent on hiding its seriousness, as well as an exemplary crime novel. All in all, the emperor has definitely put his clothes back on.
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
The trinity. The three divine brothers of British crime fiction. Ian Rankin and his Rebus as Poseidon, the volatile earth-shaker. Peter Robinson and Banks as Hades, the quiet brother. Mordant, resigned. Then there is Reginald Hill and Superintendent Andrew Dalziel, (“Dee-el”) taking the part of ruler of them, Zeus. Like Dalziel, Zeus is not perhaps the most psychologically interesting of those three Greek brothers, but he is the most colourful, the most entertaining. As is Dalziel, politically incorrect, large and in charge of Mid-Yorkshire CID, undisputed and feared king of all he surveys. Imposing, brusque, he hides his sharp mind behind his blundering, vulgar image. Hill and Dalziel are back on track after Death’s Jest-Book, and this time round are on the top of their form.
The plot is relatively straightforward at first sight, but soon, though various familial infighting and some dark outside influence, shows its true complexity. In 1992, Pal Maciver’s father commits suicide in a locked room. He shoots himself at his desk with a shotgun, trigger pulled by toe. Open on the desk, a book of poems by Emily Dickinson (this is the source of the novel’s title.) Ten years later, in the same house which now lies empty, Pal himself commits suicide in an identical way to his father. The book of poetry is even open at exactly the same page.
In each instance angry fingers point toward Pal’s stepmother, the enchanting Kay Kafka (as you can see, Hill’s love of weird names is on fine display again. Here there is not only an Ethelbert, but a Cressida, and “Pal” is short for Palinurus) who, he held much animosity towards. But as Peter Pascoe begins to investigate, merely to ascertain that everything truly is as it seems, he comes to find that Kay has a formidable ally in the large shape of his boss, Andy Dalziel. What is the true nature of their relationship? As Pascoe digs deeper, he’ll learn that Pal’s suicide has implications far beyond Yorkshire. And, also, that for some people the heart too is a locked room, and there it is always midnight.
Firstly, let me admit to pilfering that last sentence from the book jacket. I thought it was marvellous. Secondly, let me jump up and down with glee that Hill is back on track with his bloody fantastic book, another of his wonderful gothic tragic-comedies steeped in lightly-worn literary influence. There’s everything here from Shakespeare to Emily Dickinson to Homer’s Odyssey, and the great thing is that, if you recognise these references, the quality ascends ever-higher, but you don’t it doesn’t actually matter, so subtly does he apply them. These novels, this one in particular, are very learned and intelligent, but they wear it lightly so that, if Hill chooses, they can at times be rather light-hearted, shading the real darkness beneath and the serious comments he is making. It’s absolutely hilarious, too. Hill has a sparkling wit which makes the book bounce along and the reader react with a kind of elated joy. It’s not at all overt humour, but it makes this the most amusing crime novels I’ll read this year I’m sure. Janet E doesn’t have a patch on Hill, not on this form anyway.
His prose is also a joy – a sublime pleasure. At first it may seem wordy, until you see that it’s overwritten and flamboyant for humour, and it works very well. It’s not at all heavy, its as light as a cloud, and he has a brilliant ability to turn a phrase. Dalziel is a marvellous character, Pascoe a great foil for him, and Hill’s other wide cast are great fun too. Good Morning, Midnight is a tremendously entertaining book, as well as an exemplary crime novel. Universally recommended to all!
on 22 July 2012
It's a disappointing Dalziel and Pascoe mystery. First there isn't a murder to solve, which in crime fiction is quite a drawback. Had the author found something extraordinary to satisfy our appetite with, it wouldn't have mattered much. As it is, we have a sometimes tedious read, in which somebody commits suicide (reproducing the way his own father had done the same ten years before) and tries to implicate his hated stepmother and the big question is to see whether the police will get her off the hook and whether they will shed any sort of light on the father's demise. The 'confessions', by that I mean the pages where different protagonists tell their stories adorned with lies or not, according to what each has to hide, made tedious reading material and considerably slowed the pace which had never been fast to start with. Add to that two corpses, one at the beginning, one at the end, whose identities we learn about but without having any inkling as to who dispatched them... and some ponderous and sinister spy concoction- Spooks meets Bond- and the whole gets somewhat difficult to digest and enjoy!!
on 19 July 2010
Very well written, as you'd expect, but I have to agree with some other posters that the book is let down by the ending. Certainly it's a refreshing change to at last get away from the ubiquitous and increasingly unbelievable character of Frannie Roote, but I was disappointed by the "Agatha Christie" type ending. By that I mean that one ploughs through the whole book, trying to work out "whodunnit", only for the last few pages to reveal facts that nobody could possibly have guessed, and which are simply spelled out by one of the characters. There's basically no "detecting" involved.
on 8 November 2009
A return to a more standard format for Dalziel and Pascoe following the more arc-ish set of stories. The story itself is very interestingly formed, as you know what happened from the very start, just not why, or how people will respond to it. As ever it's the characters that are the real delight though, with plenty of references to previous books and events to keep the characters totally consistent and interesting.
on 18 February 2008
As always with Hill a well written mystery that is well plotted for much of the time but alas the end just doesn't make a lot of sense. I fear that when the author gets too far afield he loses his way. Any time he writes about Americans he seems to lose his normally acute characterisation.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is mid series Dalziel & Pascoe with the latter to the fore as he displays doubts over an apparently certain suicide. Even the fat man shows no interest. He begrudgingly grants Pascoe, with series regulars Costello and Wieldy, only 24 hours to come up with something to explain the 'locked room' mystery.
The plot explodes and 'Mid-Yorkshire' CID bizarrely finds itself in an amalgum of the Iran/Contra affair meets Matrix Churchill. The story is clever but strays into that twilight world of deceit whenever the CIA/SIS, or the 'funny buggers' as Dalziel calls them, are used as a plot device. That same deceit leaves the reader stuck with unreliable narrator syndrome. As Pascoe puts it, 'I've got statements from just about everyone involved ...and there's not one I'm one hundred per cent certain of. And that includes even those I think believe they're telling the truth.'
The understandable outcome is a lot of loose ends which other reviewers have disliked. Mr Hill uses the technique of chapter long confessionals by all the main protagonists (even one from Dalziel) as though spoken into a dictaphone. He also gives a knowing wink to his own crime millieu with reference to the locked room and John Dickson Carr. I was content with all of this approach but had serious misgivings about 'Kate' a pivotal character in the novel.
Kate has a history and character which I simply could not 'buy' into, she was simply not credible for such a crucial role. To paraphrase a splendid comment from another reviewer she is also Dalziel's tummy-tickler. It is only this character/plot concern which prevents me giving five stars because otherwise Mr Hill's novel was a pleasure to read.