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