on 10 March 2007
I tried to read this as slowly as possible to prolong the sheer self-hugging joy of it all but, of course,I was unequal to the task. Swept along by the helter-skelter pace of the story line, I paused only to look up all the words and references with which I was not familiar. (Quite a few, as usual, when reading Mr Hill). To describe the plot would probably render me fit only for a Dalzielesque verbal broadside from other readers, so all I can do is recommend it with all my heart.
I loved this book. I have read every Dalziel and Pascoe book and looked forward to each new one with delight. With Arms and The Woman however I thought Hill had finally lost the plot, and I was so disappointed I have never approached them in the same way since. Luckily this is a classic and a real return to form. Pascoe goes it alone in this one with Fat Andy hovering between life and death caught up in what looks like a terrorist explosion. Having said that, Dalziel dominates the book as usual, leaving Pascoe desperately trying to catch up. Hector gets to shine here too, becoming a much more rounded and interesting character. Fantastic.
Through a succession of ever-better novels, beginning with 'A Clubbable Woman' in 1970 and culminating (for me) in 'On Beulah Height' in 1999, Reginald Hill estabnlished himself as one of the finest crime writers in the business and his heroes Dalziel and Pascoe as amongst the most believable and likeable detectives. After the superlative 'On Beulah Height', however, subsequent books (and especially 'Arms and the Women') seemed to lose their way somewhat.
Not so 'The Death of Dalziel', which brings a triumphant return of the very best qualities of the Dalziel and Pascoe series - a complicated plot (which I shall not, of course, reveal), well-paced writing, excellent characterisation and a blend of subtle wit and incisive commentary. Where crime novels are concerned, it doesn't get better than this - very highly recommended!
It's the 22nd installment in the highly successful Dalziel and Pascoe police procedurals by Reginald Hill. Perhaps the title gives it added interest, but "The Death of Dalziel" is perhaps the most absorbing, even mesmerizing, episode in this highly successful series set in Yorkshire. Hill's books sometimes run the gamut, from the highly exciting (such as this one) to some that, frankly, seem, somehow, lacking, to be kind.
Lacking in characterization, however, is not one of Hill's weaknesses, as over the course of this series he's made us comfortable with his unforgettable players, from "the Fat Man" (Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel) and his educated and precise Det. Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe through the regulars, Ellie Pascoe, Sgt., Wield, and Sgt. Hector.
In the latest book, Dalziel lies comatose, following a bomb explosion iN a suspected terrorists house, in which he and Pascoe were called to investigate. Although also injured, Pascoe survives to pursue the case, seconded to the British anti-terrorist unit (CAT). This time the terrorists perpetrating the bombing are a group of loyal Brits who align themselves with the historical Knights Templar, but complete with modern techniques and agendas, using the "an eye for an eye" thinking to fight what they believe is the Islamic menace.
As ever, Hill's storyline is filled with complications (as well as commentary on some of the social events of today). This is no ordinary investigation, although it does carry with it some of the ordinary characteristics: murder, intrigue, duplicity, deceit. And all at a very fast pace. This may not be Hill's best work, although it's one of my favorites (the others being "Exit Lines," "Child's Play," and "The Wood Beyond"), but fans of the intrepid duo (D&P) certainly won't want to miss this one.
Overshadowing all else in the book is the unnerving condition of Dalziel. While not a physical character in the investigation, his presence prevails as the story progresses, from his own unconscious thoughts to his influence over his staff and loved ones. "The Death of Dalziel" is a fitting tribute to the bigger-than-life Dalziel and Hill makes us love him all the more, warts and all.
on 25 March 2007
Although I've followed the adventures of Dalziel and Pascoe on TV, this is the first Reginald Hill book I've read. It's alleged that, unlike Colin Dexter with John Thaw's Morse, Reginald Hill does not approve of Warren Clarke playing Andy Dalziel in the TV adaptations of his novels (he isn't fat enough to play the Fat Man for a start). Hill denies it, of course (or at least he denied it in a recent interview I read), but his latest book represents a formidable challenge to the TV adapters. For the eponymous hero spends most of the book lying in a coma in intensive care, until finally . . .
Of course Dalziel won't die, you're thinking. Will he? Well, the clue is in the title. I won't give away the ending, but I have to confess I was shocked.
The story isn't your usual police procedural type of tale. It is a story with a complex plot about an extremist plot against extremist plotters, with a multi-layered counterplot. The introduction of the Security Services adds to the mix and takes the story off in unexpected directions. It's a book about belief (in truth, in God, in self, in right and wrong) and about identity and division (Yorkshire/Lancashire, Anglo/Asian, Christian/Muslim, cops/spooks). The novel is perfectly structured, but it's the development of the characters (especially Peter Pascoe without the support and guidance of the comatose Dalziel) that brings the story to life.
on 2 May 2007
I've read all the Dalziel and Pascoe novels and this is one of his best. I would put it second only to "On Beulah Height". It is topical, in that it is concerned with an investigation into terrorism, and it is unusual in that Dalziel is rendered unconscious and close to death by a bomb at the very outset. So the story is largely about Pascoe trying to find out who is responsible for the incapacitation of his boss. But it is also full of delightful humour including the mental adventures of the unconscious Dalziel. These adventures lead to a beautifully constructed twist at the end. A tightly constructed novel of high quality and a terrific read.
After a couple of what I consider to be slowish, overly "intellectual" tomes, Hill is seriously back on form with a witty and fast-paced story. Part of the denouement is a bit obvious but there is a surprise or two around the corner as well. Does Dalziel Die?
on 13 December 2012
D and p have grown in every sense over the years. This is first class. if you read this as your first you would start looking for the others. there are referenes to earlier books but not so as to spoil this one. but probably best not to read the later ones before this.
The Death of Dalziel is the first Dalziel and Pascoe novel for three years, so it's hugely welcome, even after the career-highlight that was the glorious interlude "The Stranger House". It begins when our intrepid due are called to the site of an incident outside a shop that's being monitored by the CAT (Combined Anti-Terrorism unit). Brought to attention by the hapless Constable Hector, Dalziel is thus inclined to dismiss it (given Hector's track record), and it's an inclination that may prove fatal: as a result he is caught in the blast of a huge semtex explosion that decimates the shop and much of the surrounding street. Partner Pascoe is only saved by the protection of Dalziel's bulk.
As Dalziel's life hangs in the balance in hospital, Pascoe bullies his way into the CAT investigation, taking the vaguely unconscious step of filling his bosses shoes (and at the same time taking on some of his more brusque characteristics!) He vows to track down whoever is responsible for the explosion and bring them to justice. Soon after, more crimes start piling up: for starters, a Muslim extremist is beheaded and videoed in his own home, the footage released to the media. A group calling themselves the Knights Templar claim responsibility for this, and further events. It appears that their campaign is against Muslim extremists who have escaped their own view of "justice", and they always seem to be one step ahead...
Thank God for Reginald Hill. There is, without a doubt, no crime-writer like him. I would like to make a bold statement now: he is the best male British crime writer that there is. I can honestly think of no one to best him (even Ian Rankin). For so many reasons: his supreme abilities with character, the tendency to see the humour in everyone, his levels of empathy and compassion. Then there's his plots which, even when not out of the ordinary like this one (after all, everyone is writing terrorist novels these days; I find it irritating), just shine with every scene because of his sheer style. It is, quite obviously, his style which makes him stand out primarily, and the one thing everyone is guaranteed to comment upon. Hill has more verve and fizz, more witty life spring in his writing than any other crime novelist. He is certainly one of the few I can think of (the only other is Michael Dibdin) who has real wit. He is worth reading for that alone, for the bawdy, headstrong humour exemplified by Dalziel alone.
It's a risky choice, to as good as remove your star character from the entire novel. And, we must admit, Dalziel *is* the star character: Pascoe may actually be more subtle, but he is, let's face it, also more boring. However, Hill employs nice tricks to get over this: the first is to present occasional glimpses of Dalziel's dreamy consciousness as he floats somewhere between life and death, and thus we get snippets of his character. It's odd, that these moments provide some of the most moving (and also humorous) in the whole novel. The other way Hill counteracts having Dalziel unavoidably AWOL is to gradually transplant some of Dalziel's more headstrong character traits into Pascoe. Pascoe, with the beloved boss and friend out of action, feels he must become the man of the house, must step into Dalziel's shoes (and it's a thought that he only half consciously acknowledges). Thus, as Pascoe barrels around and bullies his way through an investigation he really should only have a very peripheral role in, we see Dalziel's shadow all over the book, and we also get to realise quite *how* strong the bond between the two men is, even if Pascoe doesn't entirely realise it himself. This illumination of the central relationship is one of the most touching aspects of the book.
Other draws? Hill's refusal to let even the most minor of characters seem cardboard, or dull. The issues tackled in a sensitive, sensible way, from a different angle to how many would tackle them. To be fair, the plot isn't exactly believable, but that's never really been the point in these novels. They are unfailingly original contrivances, always entertaining, and they make complete plausible sense in the world of the books. His wit and wordplay seem to create this world where, if words can be so wonderfully and originally toyed with, then the plots can be similarly playful and eclectic.
The Death of Dalziel has it all. It is fun, it is clever, it is moving, it is above everything written with such a pyrotechnic flair for language that every page contains lexical gems, whatever it's about. There's a nice final-page twist but, even without that, this is a most satisfying piece of fiction indeed, and one of the best of the series.
on 26 May 2007
Perhaps because I over anticipated the new book, ordering it as soon as Amazon began to list its publication date, but I was hugely disappointed.
Hill is a tremendous author, but in this book I constantly felt he was trying to be too clever, too literate, and it lost my attention.
I really had to work hard to finish the book, and was pleased that it did seem to come into its own in the final quarter of the tale, however I am used to much more gripping tales from Hill and felt this was nowhere near as good as his previous outings for the characters. Dialogues of the Dead gripped me from page to page and I finished the book in days. With this story I had to force myself to read it and it took me nearly a month to work my way through it.
Whilst I would recommend Hill to anyone keen for a good read, this would not be the book I would suggest they read first.