Final Competition Results

Further to our COMPETITION #1 winners Janis Littleton from Australia and Vanda Symon from NZ, we can now announce the further following winners:

COMPETITION #2 – Jacqueline Saville, and

COMPETITION #3 – Jane Holmes, Janis Littleton and Julia Bohanna.

Congratulations to all!  Emails will follow in the week to obtain addresses to forward to HarperCollins for despatch.  Our thanks again to HarperCollins for the prizes. Continue reading

Reginald Hill: not just classy; cool.

By Ruth Dudley Edwards

Reginal Hill at Harrogate in 2010.

My crime-writing colleagues have been writing sadly, lovingly, admiringly and eloquently about Reg Hill, and I can’t pass up the chance to say what a wonderful writer and delightful man we have lost.  I venerated him greatly and loved his company.  It was my proudest moment as a crime writer when he proposed me as a member of the Detection Club.  I wish I could remember the affectionate jibes he directed at me in his speech.

Reg was erudite, cultivated and a master of the English language, but he wore his learning so lightly and wittily that it was reminiscent of a soufflé surprise.    He could be authoritative, but he was never ever pompous.  He laughed affectionately at himself, at his friends, at the world and at his characters.  When he described himself as being at the Jane Austen end of the crime-writing spectrum he meant he didn’t go in for torrid sex or graphic violence.  But of course the comparison works at a much deeper level.  Like Jane, Reg was a wise and amused observer of the human condition who had great compassion but a subversive pen and utterly despised pretention.

I was a happy member of the audience at Harrogate in 2009 for his memorable discussion with John Banville.  He had wondered in an email what they could talk about.  ‘Dare I suggest that as Iris Murdoch got a full Booker for The Sea! The Sea! he should only have got half a one for The Sea? Maybe not…’ Continue reading

A personal memory of Reginald Hill from Julia Wisdom

By Julia Wisdom, HarperCollins

I was immensely privileged to be Reginald Hill’s editor for eighteen years.  He was erudite, versatile, witty, endlessly inventive and deeply humane – an elegant and profoundly intelligent writer who remained very much his own man.

The first book I published by him was Pictures of Perfection, a playful homage to Jane Austen, and the last was The Woodcutter, a compelling revenge tragedy described in The Times as ‘an outstanding novel of force and beauty’.  In between came a veritable feast of riches, the highlight being (for me) the extraordinary On Beulah Height, a magical novel which wove together past and present, music and tragedy, the loss of children with children’s fables, and passionately evoked landscape and vivid narrative voices, even Reg’s own, Yorkshire-set, lyrics to Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. This was a book that moved me and, I suspect, many others to tears, and I’ll never forget how it felt to read that typescript for the first time. Continue reading

Dalziel and Pascoe on TV

By Rhian Davies of It’s a crime! (Or a mystery…)

If you are going to become a crime fiction lover, I believe it starts early and not just through reading.  As a child of the sixties I can confirm this also includes TV viewing, and family viewing from the formative years.  When you’re too old for Watch with Mother or Blue Peter another staple of TV viewing can kick in during teenage years: a wonderful cop show with a challenging puzzle to solve.  Competition in my family home was rife: who could take pride in being the first to guess whodunit?  (Extra kudos was earned for getting motivation and method right when such point scoring was available due to the presentation of plot.)

Warren Clarke as Dalziel in An Advancement of Learning.

From Dixon of Dock Green and Z Cars to Juliet Bravo and Kojak, to Inspector Morse, Prime Suspect and so on, we have been spoiled with many series of TV cop.  A clear and enduring favourite over the years has to be Inspector Morse which started in 1987.  Then, nearly a decade later in 1996 along came Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe.  For TV, this was obviously initially modelled on Morse – BBC’s competition to ITV’s Morse perhaps? – with a brooding score from the same composer, Barrington Pheloung, and an echo of older cynic cop with younger and greenish sidekick, both male.

Now, before anyone hits the comment button, I am aware of the first attempt at adaptation here.  I am happy to say that it passed me by at the time, as most people consider the episode completely dire with the inappropriate casting of comedians Hale and Pace in the lead roles.  I have been reliably informed that Hill referred to them as ‘Hake and Plaice’ as a result. But then came 1996… Continue reading

Reginald Hill: the central dynamic

By Stephen Booth

Aside from his stature as a writer, there’s one characteristic of Reginald Hill that everyone seems to agrees one – his generosity of spirit and unfailing willingness to support other writers. So it seems fitting that one of the most succinct summaries of his approach to writing a crime novel didn’t appear in any tribute to Reg, or in an interview with him, or in anything that he said about himself. It appeared in an appreciation of another author’s work.

I felt I’d been given a fascinating glimpse into the Reginald Hill crime writing philosophy, when I read these words: “Good crime fiction is economical, which does not mean short but rather that everything in a book, however apparently peripheral, incidental, or even ornamental, should contribute to the story’s central dynamic. If a writer is successful in this, readers will finish the book with that contradictory sense of delight and disappointment – delight at having enjoyed such a complete and rounded experience, and disappointment that it’s over!”

I think the idea of the “central dynamic” is crucial to an understanding of Reginald Hill’s novels. Some crime writers (and indeed editors) might insist that nothing should be in a book which doesn’t contribute directly to moving the plot forward. But for Hill, there was more to a book than the plot. That “central dynamic” was about an idea, a theme, or an underlying concept. The unravelling of a mystery was a very important part of that concept, but not the whole of it. All those peripheral, incidental or ornamental elements were crucial to the story too. So each Hill book became, to use his own words, “a complete and rounded experience”. Continue reading

Final Reginald Hill COMPETITION #3

To win in this final week:
A – a framed promotional art work for The Stranger House
B – a signed hardback of Midnight Fugue
C – 1 of 5 packs of random Reginald Hill novels in paperback.
All you have to do:
Leave a comment here or email us at crimewritingmonth at gmail dot com.  Open worldwide.
The draw will take place on Saturday 14 July at 22:00 and in the order A, B then C.  Please state if you have a specific preference for the draw, i.e. ‘A only’ etc, ‘A and C’ etc, or ‘all’.
Many thanks again to HarperCollins, UK, for the prizes.
Winners for both this competition and competition #2 will be announced on Saturday 14 July at 22:30.

In Appreciation of Reginald Hill

By Val McDermid

When Reginald Hill died in January, I lost a friend, a colleague and a hero. It’s hard for a writer to be completely aware of their influences; it’s often easier for readers and critics to see what we’ve absorbed and reflected back from the books we’ve been drawn to. But I can point to a handful of writers whose work in one way or another helped to shape me. Reg was one of those.

I can still remember the delight of discovering Dalziel and Pascoe in A Clubbable Woman. It was one of those Grafton paperbacks with the uninspiring covers. I was in the café of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester where I used to hide from my newsroom colleagues so I could read instead of drink during my lunch break.

As I read, I realised I was smiling. But not because of the sly wit that permeates Reg’s writing. I was smiling because I had in my hands that rare thing – a crime novel that demonstrated that it’s possible to write a detective novel in good prose. Well-made sentences, felicitous choices of words, and the ability to create deft shifts of mood all revealed a level of literary craft that was unusual in British crime fiction back in the mid 80s.

For me, a fledgling crime writer struggling with her first novel, it set the bar high. And as Reg developed his skills through an impressive series of novels, he continued to provide me with a target to aim at. I always felt he was several steps ahead of me, and as well as enjoying his work, I learned from each of his novels. How to mislead the reader. How to draw on other writers’ work to enrich my own. Not to be afraid to invest real emotion in the work. How to allow characters to carry the weight of their past. To have the courage to be complicated. Continue reading