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On Beulah Height (A Dalziel & Pascoe Novel) Paperback – 3 Mar 2003

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New edition edition (3 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000649000X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006490005
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 11 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,461,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘On Beulah Height must rank as his best yet… Reginald Hill’s novels are really dances to the music of time’
Ian Rankin, Scotland on Sunday

‘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

Praise for Reginald Hill:

'You'll be hard pushed to find another crime writer with his verve … Hill uses every trick in his arsenal to elucidate. The result is an epic, unbeatable mystery' Financial Times

'Reginald Hill's books are as good as crime fiction gets' Literary Review

'Hill's plotting is brilliant, the jokes first-rate, the prose supple: it's his humble awe at the English language that enables him to be a minor master of it' Daily Telegraph

From the Back Cover

"'On Beulah Height' must rank as his best yet…Reginald Hill's novels are really dances to the music of time, his heroes and villains interconnecting, their stories entwining"

They moved everyone out of Dendale that long hot summer fifteen years ago. They needed a new reservoir and an old community seemed a cheap price to pay. They even dug up the dead and moved them too.

But four inhabitants of the valley they couldn't move, for no one knew where they were. Three little girls had gone missing, and the prime suspect in their disappearance, Benny Lightfoot.

This was Andy Dalziel's worst case and now fifteen years on he looks set to relive it. It's another long hot summer. A child goes missing in the next valley, and old fears resurface as someone sprays the deadly message on the walls of Danby:

"All Reginald Hill's novels are brilliantly written, but he has excelled himself here"
'Evening Standard'

"A long, richly complex, often lyrical and genuinely haunting crime novel"
'Daily Telegraph'

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book got under my skin completely. It was so disturbing that it was almost like a ghost story in the effect it had on me. Once more he glides easily between the past and the present and the use of multiple narrative only adds to the poignancy. The disappearance of these children is so affecting that I felt like an intruder when I was witnessing the parents' anguish and the effect on the local community. The tragedy builds and builds and scars everyone that it touches. This book is lyrical about issues that one would not expect to be treated that way and it brings out the true horror of the situation. The real poetry here was the way the author brings alive the sense of the fragile balance of life and the futility of taking it away.
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I was pushed towards this by a fellow reviewer and Crime Queen (well crime fiction reader queen!) FictionFan, who thought this might be suitable lit ficcy for me, as I do like my dead bodies to be rather more than just a bodybag count. And if Ian Rankin also recommends Hill, who am I to demur.

This was certainly a gripping and absorbing read. Set in a partly real, partly invented area of the North Yorks Moors, it encompasses some real history that happened to real places - villages drowned to create a huge dam for urban conurbations and their water needs. Although Hill transposes these events into his enhanced locations, I have visited the area, its wildness, its beauty and its isolation and indeed read some of the history of the drowning of similar villages, and the breaking up of community.

Within this community Hill creates a police procedural around disappeared children, spanning a fifteen year period. However, the complex story is about much more than solving a crime (though that does happen)

I have never seen the TV series, and came to the relationships between the characters, the various people in the hierarchy of the police team, and the central characters of Dalziel and Pascoe themselves, completely fresh. There's a lot of the dark side of human nature (inevitably, given the subject matter) and so the sly injections of the intentional or unintentional wit, sarcasm or irony of the major players, is welcome, as is the evidence of Hill's wry, almost throwaway line in humour:

"The sun was laying its golden blade right down the centre of the street so there was no shade to be found.
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The setting for this is fantastic and the crime is truly terrifying - a young girl disappearing in an area where several disappeared years before, never to be seen again. Hill makes great use of flashbacks and witness statements and even a children's book within the book to add layers of detail to the narrative. It just didn't work for me. I admit that I don't find Dalziel's sense of humour or character appealing, which is a problem that certainly isn't Reginald Hill's fault - I don't think he was written to appeal to someone like me. But I also hate the way every single character, intellectual or not, will find some reason to explain away their ability to quote, at length, fairly abstruse literature. I also found his portrayal of female characters to be unconvincing. It began to irritate me and then distract me and eventually I had to skip to the end where I found a clever conclusion to the mystery. Well worth reading if you're a Hill fan, but I can't count myself as one.
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I'd always held crime fiction to be unashamedly populist and perceived the quality of writing to be pretty low-brow. I like modern writers but prefer something more literary like Iain McEwan or William Boyd. However, curiosity got the better of me with this book as I enjoyed the TV series where I felt that the late Warren Clarke was excellent. I didn't come to this book with great expectations despite the excellent reviews on Amazon and the opening chapters seemed to confirm by opinion as the cast of characters was initially too large to take in. However, once the story had started to establish itself I have found this book impossible to put down over the Christmas holiday and read huge swathes of it in single sittings as it is so good.

The quality of writing is very high and the characters all particularly well-drawn. I felt that the TV adaptation had a lighter touch yet the air of brooding that hangs over the story creates a menacing scenario where Hill skilfully places the reader right in the centre of the community , creating pictures in your head every bit as vivid as on screen. Dalziel and Pascoe are not the key characters in this novel with their colleagues Wield and Novello being no less significant or equally well described. Centred around the disappearance of three little girls fifteen years ago, the case picks up fifteen years later with a new disappearance. I think the cast of suspects are excellent and there are numerous twists and turns in the book, some of which can be deduced but others are quite revelatory. The landscape is also as much a character as any of the individuals and the savage beauty described is almost akin to Dartmoor in "Hound of the Bakservilles" although events take place during a heat-wave.
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