A selection of reviews by Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise, from Australia, in her noted style applying ratings out of a maximum of 5.
Just as his Dalziel & Pascoe novels (27 of them in all) constitute only about a third of his total output, so the various reviews of Reginald Hill titles on Mysteries in Paradise are but the tip of the iceberg.
5.0 A Cure for All Diseases
4.5 Asking For the Moon
4.5 Child’s Play
4.3 Death of a Doormouse
4.7 Midnight Fugue
4.5 The Spy’s Wife
4.2 The Roar of the Butterflies
3.8 There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union
4.8 The Woodcutter
And I thought that as he got older he got better. His novels were more than police procedurals, or thrillers, or murder mysteries. They had intellectual and literary content, to the point where I thought he could really be said to be one of those cross genre writers.
I have only read, regretfully, about a third of all the books he wrote, but I’d love to point you to the three that I liked best. To these I gave a rating of 5.
The Wood Beyond published in 1996, #15 in the Dalziel & Pascoe series
Police Inspector Peter Pascoe has stumbled upon the remains of an ancestor unjustly executed in wartime. As he delves into the mystery of his disgraced great-grandfather’s death, his partner, Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel, is preoccupied with a shapely animal rights activist. Eight female protesters have discovered human bones on the grounds of a drug company’s research headquarters, and the investigation has a shocking connection to Pascoe’s own family case.
The Death of Dalziel published in 2007, #22 in the Dalziel & Pascoe series aka Death Comes For the Fat Man
When Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel sticks his nose in where it is not wanted yet again, and is consequently blown up by a Semtex bomb exploding in a video store, the unthinkable is on the cards: the death of fat Andy. Then it seems there is little justice in the world. Sheltered by Dalziel’s bulk, and only slightly injured in the bomb blast, Peter Pascoe is fairly quickly seconded to CAT, the anti-terrorist unit. As fat Andy fights against the odds and remains in a coma, blame falls on the Knights Templar, a right wing group pledged to dealing with Moslem sympathisers through summary execution and even suicide bombing. Pascoe suspects there may be a mole in CAT who is leaking information to the Knights Templar, and that his secondment is in fact busy work to keep an eye on him. There are some beautiful cameo performances in this book: Cap Marvell, Dalziel’s partner; Hector, the policeman who originally noticed something odd in the video store; Rosie, Peter Pascoe’s daughter who has absolute faith that Uncle Andy will wake up when he is good and ready; Ellie Pascoe, so supportive of Peter; and finally Wieldy, ever faithful, always coming up with the goods. This is one book that you don’t want to finish…
A Cure For All Diseases; published in 2008, #23 in the Dalziel & Pascoe Series, aka The Price of Butcher’s Meat
A tribute to Jane Austen
Incapacitated by what he refers to as “the big bang in Mill Street”, Andy Dalziel finds that none of those who are near and dear to him want to take him on in his convalescence, and so he takes Ellie Pascoe’s advice and books in at the Avalon in Sandytown. As we know the sea air is good for the health, and there is nothing like a seaside holiday for restoring health.
Sandytown is dominated by three families: the Parkers, Denhams and Hollises, very much intertwined and wanting between them to turn the sleepy little seaside resort into something much grander with a 5 star hotel, clinics, and health resort. Just the thing for the convalescent. But under the apparently united front of the Sandytown Development Consortium simmer tensions that go back decades. And then they result in the death of Lady Denham herself. That’s when Peter Pascoe and his team move in to investigate.