Selection of Book Reviews: Dalziel and Pascoe – Reginald Hill

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… Continue reading

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The Dalziel and Pascoe Series: A Personal View

By Roberta Rood of Books to the Ceiling from Maryland, USA.

“Ever the master of form and sorcerer of style” – that’s what Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times called Reginald Hill in her 1998 review of On Beulah Height. At that time, I had just begun reading the Dalziel and Pascoe series. I knew I liked Hill’s writing, but I didn’t know just how much until I read On Beulah Height. This is not just a brilliant mystery – it is a brilliant novel, period.

A while back, when I was feeling the need of a Reginald Hill fix, I picked up an earlier (1973) novel that I had never read, Ruling Passion. Here we encounter Peter Pascoe as a Detective Sergeant, prior to his achievement of the rank of Detective Chief Inspector. (There was never much doubt that Pascoe was a comer.) He and Ellie Soper are lovers – but will they marry?

Ellie Soper Pascoe (as she becomes in fairly short order) is one of my favorite continuing characters in this series.  Quite the spitfire, she’s an unapologetic feminist as well as an aspiring novelist. She’s not initially a fan of Peter’s boss, the larger-than-life – in every way! – Andy Dalziel. For his part, Andy describes Ellie as being “authentic liberal radical left-wing pink Dalziel-hating.”  Though it makes Peter anxious, these two love to spar. (Ellie gets her own memorable starring vehicle in Arms and the Women, subtitled ‘An Elliad’.) Continue reading