*Updated 10 July*

Apologies, but due to unforeseen circumstances we had to take a break with the posts. The schedule will resume on Tuesday 10 July, revised as follows:

Fri 29 June (postponed to Wed 11 July 09:30) #fridayreads COMPETITION #3
Sat 30 June A Few Themes and Elements in Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe Series
Tues 10 July 09:30 In appreciation of Reginald Hill by Val McDermid
Wed 11 July 09:30 COMPETITION #3 and 14:00 Reginald Hill: the central dynamic by Stephen Booth
Thurs 12 July 14:00 Dalziel and Pascoe: The TV Series
Fri 13 July 09:30 Personal memories from Julia Wisdom
Sat 14 July 22:30 Final competition results
Sun 15 July 09:30 Closing thanks and comments

Sadly, we have also received news that Iwan Morelius, our contributor on Friday 8 June, died suddenly on 21 June.  Janet Rudolph has more information here.  Our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.


A Few Themes and Elements in Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe Series

By Margot Kinberg of Confessions of a Mystery Novelist… from the USA.

Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe novels are justly regarded as one of crime fiction’s truly fine series. Beyond the fact that they’re well-written (which they are) and have well-developed characters (which they do) and solid mysteries (which they also do), these are novels rich with layers and themes. Little wonder at all that they’ve been called literary as well as crime novels. Space doesn’t permit a thorough examination of all of the themes and elements there are in this series. Hopefully a quick look at just a few themes and elements will convince you to see for yourself what I mean if you don’t know already.

One of the themes that run through several of the Dalziel/Pascoe novels is the connection between the past and the present. For example, An Advancement of Learning is the story of the murder of Alison Girling, former president of Holm-Coultram College. Five years before the events in the novel she disappeared and was assumed killed in a freak avalanche. When her body is discovered actually on the campus grounds, Dalziel and Pascoe are called in to investigate. While they’re investigating, student Anita Sewell is murdered. Then there’s another murder. The two detectives then have to find out what the connection is between the past murder and the two recent murders. Continue reading

Book Review: Midnight Fugue – Reginald Hill

Review by Rob Kitchin of The View From the Blue House, from Ireland

Review of Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill (2009, HarperCollins)

In Mid-Yorkshire, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel is not quite himself, still easing himself back into work after being hospitalised by a terrorist bomb.  His Monday morning starts badly when, seemingly late for work, he discovers that it’s actually Sunday.  To make matters worse he’s been followed by a woman chasing a ghost – her former copper husband who disappeared seven years previously after the death of their daughter and accusations he was on the take.  She in turn is being followed by a sister and brother pairing, sent to dispose of the rogue cop before he turns against the criminal he served.  That criminal is Goldie Gidman, who started running rackets, progressed into the money markets of London’s square mile, and is now a major conservative party funder.  His son is a MP and a rising star of the party.  Both are being hounded by a tabloid journalist, the nephew of a cop who failed to corner Gidman for the murder of a local Polish businessman.  A recent picture of the rogue cop, taken in Yorkshire, has been sent to his former wife and she wants Dalziel to help find him so she can get divorced and marry one of his former colleagues, one of Dalziel’s old copper mates.  So starts a sixteen hour swirl of drama and farce. Continue reading

Book Review and Tribute: Dialogues of the Dead

By Anne Zouroudi

Link to PB on Amazon UK.

When I was younger than I am now, Reginald Hill was a privileged resident at our house.  Or at least, his novels – Deadheads and An April Shroud come immediately to mind – had homes in the family bookcase.

My mother and father, though keen readers, rarely bought books.  Most books in our house were on loan, chosen on the regular Saturday afternoon run to the library.  But at some point – an East Coast holiday seems the most likely time and place (Skegness or Scarborough, rather than Nantucket or New York) – my mother paid money for Reginald Hill.  I see that as her vote of confidence in his reliability.

I picked up my first Reginald Hill after watching the BBC’s brilliant serialisation of Dalziel and Pascoe – Warren Clarke as a bossy and bluff Dalziel, David Royle as the craggy- faced Wield, and I fell half in love with handsome Colin Buchanan in the role of Pascoe.  I was already addicted to Morse, and Dalziel and Pascoe was an interesting foil for the gentility of Oxford academia, with the rude and crude Dalziel an evil twin to the thoughtful and cultured Morse.

Dialogues of the Dead came later, but in my mind Clarke and Buchanan were forever Dalziel and Pascoe, and it was their voices I heard as I read.  It’s a long book, over 550 pages, and that immediately earns my admiration.  To write such a long novel takes great stamina; to maintain pace to engage the reader through such length takes an accomplished craftsman. Continue reading

Ellie Pascoe

By Margaret Murphy

Ellie Pascoe (Susannah Corbett) at her wedding to Peter.

By my calculation, the BBC adapted 14 of the Dalziel and Pascoe novels, but this changed after On Beulah Height.  The producers decided to write Ellie Pascoe out of the TV series (in the storyline, Pascoe and Ellie divorce, and she moves to the USA with daughter Rosie).  If memory serves, Susannah Corbett’s other acting commitments were cited as an excuse for writing her out.  It was a mistake, and my own feeling was that television at the time was nervous of complexity, and a strong woman in the teleplay was just too demanding.  And Reg Hill did write wonderfully strong, vibrant women – even his apparently weak females are capable of whipping round and slapping you about the chops with your stereotypical notions.  Susannah Corbett met Reg and Pat Hill at the press launch of Dalziel and Pascoe. ‘As I walked in,’ she told me, ‘two very normal and unassuming looking people (quite out of place for a press launch) accosted me, shouting “It’s Ellie – you’re just how we imagined you.”  That remains the greatest compliment I have ever been paid.’  It was typical, too of Reg’s generosity of spirit.

When Arms and the Women was published in the USA, Random House had a Q&A on their website.  Asked for his thoughts on the TV adaptations, Reg paid tribute to the skills of the actors, directors and scriptwriters, but added, ‘TV is too self-absorbed to enter into an equal partnership.  You start close and cosy enough but soon you realize you’re not getting your fair share of the duvet and one day you wake to find you’re lying at the very edge of the bed, totally exposed to the chill morning air.’  I laughed when I read this, but I laughed harder at Reg’s response when he was asked at a conference how he felt about the loss of Ellie from the TV adaptations.  The TV producers had made their decision: Ellie was gone, Rosie was gone, and there was nothing Reg could do about it.  We would have forgiven him for raging – many of the audience were fuming on his behalf – but Reg made his point far more eloquently and decisively, and with his trademark wit.  He said he decided to write his next novel centred firmly on Ellie.  I remember the wicked gleam in his eye as Reg looked around the audience. ‘Adapt that!’ he said. Continue reading

A Personal Memory: Reginald Hill

By Ann Cleeves

My first memory of meeting Reg Hill was at a CWA Northern Chapter Symposium in a hotel in Grasmere in the late eighties or early nineties.  He’d organised the weekend and it represented him perfectly: extremely comfortable, very sociable and quite unpretentious.  The food was wonderful and there was plenty to drink.  I was new to the association and Reg made me feel welcome.  He even bought one of my early books.  Even then I knew that the novel was dreadful and I was mortified.  Reg must have realised that after the first page, but typically never mentioned it again.  Tall and quietly spoken, a perfect gentleman, he could have been a hero in a classic detective story.  Except perhaps for his wicked and irreverent sense of humour.

Reg was one of the greats of British crime-writing, but he didn’t become a star overnight.  I first came across his work through a Radio 4 Woman’s Hour adaptation and even then his books weren’t widely available.  He kept his day job as a lecturer and perhaps because he bumped into people of all ages at work, his observational skills were brilliantly sharp.  He understood people’s frailties and petty jealousies and was one of the few writers in any genre who could make me laugh out loud.  Some authors can craft words well on a page but are less confident when they speak.  Reg was a superb speaker.  At one award ceremony he followed a writer who was somewhat long-winded and self-congratulatory.  In a few sentences Reg had the audience in stitches and cheering in admiration. Continue reading

Round-up of Week Three

Thanks again to all our wonderful contributors.

On Monday, 18 June, we kicked off with ‘A personal memory: The Friday Walkers’ from Jane Holmes, a good friend of the late Reginald Hill, who shared her strong and beloved memories with readers.  Then on Tuesday, Natasha Cooper recalled the great Reginald Hill with her own personal memory.  Jake Kerridge took us down memory lane for a younger reader on Wednesday, where, with his ‘Book Review and Tribute: Bones and Silence’ we heard how Hill had impressed the young Jake in his formative reading years.  The impact was so big that Jake is the well-known the crime fiction reviewer at the Daily Telegraph.  Continue reading