Hill, Reginald. An Advancement of Learning. I have no idea how many of the Dalziel & Pascoe novels I've read. I'd read everything the library had to offer, but some of them have escaped me. I found this 2008 edition of the 2nd Dalziel & Pascoe on the new book shelf the other day. Originally published in 1971, this novel has the fat man and a young Sergeant Pascoe still uneasy in their relationship.
A first-rate mystery, although not as full of literary references as some of the later books, An Advancement of Learning introduces Ellie Soper and Franny Roote. If you are a fan of the series, you know that Ellie and Pascoe are married in later novels and that Franny, that strange (sociopath?) young man, features in several of Hill's best novels.
In this second novel of the series, the characters of Andy Dalziel, Peter Pascoe, Ellie Soper, and Franny Roote are in their incipient stages of characterization, and that alone makes the novel worth reading. Hill has created the basics of each one, but knows they will be worth the trouble he takes to develop them in succeeding novels - they are clay (interesting clay) waiting for the breath of life at this point.
A good mystery this, but especially interesting in seeing the way Hill's characters and style originated. Although chapters all have epigraphs from Sir Frances Bacon, the multi-layered allusions that are such fun in later novels are not yet present.
I did miss Sergeant Wield, whose lovable personality transcends his appearance, but I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some of Hill's characters in their infancy.
Fiction. Mystery/detective fiction. 2008 re-edition (UK original, 1971). 288 pages.