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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dalziel & Pascoe Expanded

A little more on Reginald Hill and the Dalziel & Pascoe novels --

Hill's first novel in the series is A Clubbable Woman, which I've recently ordered. The second in the series is An Advancement of Learning, the book I reviewed in the previous post. In 2002, I found Dialogues of the Dead and went back to find any other novels in the series that the library had to offer. I had read a D & P novel earlier and recognized the characters, but Dialogues of the Dead was much longer and much more involved; it provided the deep hook.

I checked out all of the series that the library had ( Pictures of Perfection, Recalled to Life, The Wood Beyond, On Beulah Height, Arms and the Women) and read and enjoyed them all, but now I'd like to fill in the gaps among the older novels. Some are being re-published, but others I can get through Alibris.

Even as I made my way through the above novels, I awaited Hill's new novels and kept up with all of them - Death's Jest-Book, Good Morning Midnight, and Death Comes for the Fat Man. Have not yet read the most recent, A Cure for All Diseases, but look forward to it. The only ones I've read since beginning this blog are Death Comes for the Fat Man and An Advancement of Learning, so they are the only 2 I've reviewed.

Hill's inclusion of allusions, and there are plenty of them in the later works, range from historic to literary to contemporary topics and works. I especially love these allusions, many I recognize at a glance (which is always fun), but sometimes I only know that it is an echo of something I've read or heard and must do some research to pin it down (also fun).

The combination of humor and the horrific is also well done. The relationship between Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe is often testy, full of irony and tongue in cheek satire that makes me smile, and occasionally, laugh out loud. Pascoe is a strong character in his own right, but is an excellent foil for the often crude and always curmudgeonly Dalziel. The minor characters are also well-developed and interesting in their own right, never cardboard totems - and in some novels, Hill gives them the lead. Edgar Wield the gay sergeant whose appearance is always commented on (unattractive, to put it mildly) is by far the most lovable and interesting.

Hill is one of the best crime/mystery/detective fiction authors around. If you haven't given him a try, now might be the time.


  1. This is a series I've meant to read for years now. I saw a couple television programs and thought they were an interesting pair. I think I would feel the same way about D & P as I do Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks. And I've read them much the way you mentioned - late, early, middle, and now I'm going back to the start. I've bought the first six, and finished the first (you may have read the little book report). The Hill books will be one of my Friday Finds tomorrow. :<) Thanks for the great posting.

  2. I read several Reginald Hill books many years ago, P & D among them...I am one of those readers who can read a book over as I forget them maybe it's time to find the RH books I still own and dust them off for another go...

  3. Nan - The funny thing is that --although they are very different-- I deleted a sentence that mentioned how much I love Peter Robinson. He is another of my very favorite authors in this genre!

    Debby - I don't usually re-read mystery/crime fiction, but Hill's novels are much more than that, and I truly feel a connection to his as I pick up more of the older books, I'm going to add some that I've already read. Hope we both enjoy them the second-time-around!

  4. I appreciate this expansion of your experiences with Dalziel and Pascoe. My mystery group read ON BEULAH HEIGHT and IN A DRY SEASON by Peter Robinson in June. I just noticed that I didn't write an entry about that meeting (guess all my surgery stuff happened right after). We had some who liked both, some who liked one or the other. They were both my first book by Peter Robinson and Reginald Hill. I loved both. Being a "read from the beginning" person, I intend to read more of each.

  5. Kay - Sounds as if your book club has made some very good choices. I think a mystery book club would be great fun!

  6. You really need to read 'Death's Jest-Head' because it follows directly on from 'Dialogues of the Dead'. I always thought 'Dialogues of the Dead' was Hill's deliberate attempt to write a book they couldn't film, after all, how do you deal with that scene in the baths? Well, you deal with it by missing it out. 'Death's Jest-Head' is so complex it makes the others look simple, and I'm not sure that they have filmed that. I certainly don't remember seeing it. Don't neglect Hill's other work. There was a very good one off that came out about two years age 'The Stranger House', that is well worth a read.

  7. Ann - The U.S. title was Death's Jest Book and I agree that it was long and complex and yes, there was the bath scene! I eagerly awaited each installment of that little "mini-series" with Franny Roote.

    I read and reviewed The Stranger House in 2006, right after I started this blog. It didn't appeal to me in the same way D & P (although I like old houses, priest-holes, and a little supernatural).

    Have you read any of the books he's written as Patrick Ruell? I've not yet given them a try.

  8. I believe the BBC series of Dalziell & Pascoe is one of the all-time greats. The casting is inspired and Warren Clarke is absolutely perfect as Fat Andy. My only complaint is that the more recent episodes don't feature Sgt Weild.

  9. Nicola - I think I'll add that series to my Netflix que!