Reginald Hill, Author
Reginald Hill, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (433p) ISBN 978-0-06-052807-2
Reviewed on: 08/16/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004

One part traditional English whodunit and one part shadowy corporate thriller, Diamond Dagger winner Hill's 21st Dalziel/Pascoe mystery (after 2003's Death's Jest-Book ) weaves a complex and deeply satisfying tale. Pal Mciver is found dead, an apparent suicide, in a locked room of the old family house in Yorkshire. The circumstances mimic the suicide of his father, a former Ashur-Mac corporation executive, 10 years before. A book of Emily Dickinson poems found at the scene may hold clues to both deaths. Called in to investigate, detectives Peter Pascoe and Andy Dalziel find themselves entering an ever-widening and ever more intricate web of relationships. The particulars of some of these relationships hint at murder rather than suicide. Kay Kafka, Pal Mciver's stepmother, is particularly well drawn, a mixture of sadness, salaciousness, possible malice and cool intelligence. As the novel nimbly moves from character to character, it also calls into question the motives of Ashur-Mac, whose arms dealings ring a note of present-day relevance. Throughout, Pascoe and Dalziel are their usual witty, intelligent selves; they continue to be two of the more interesting police detectives in modern crime fiction. The descriptions of Dalziel are particularly fine: "like a shark dumped in a swimming pool, Dalziel provided a new and unignorable focus of attention." Hill has provided readers with a superior example of the mystery form—one with a deliciously cold sting in the final pages. Agent, Caradoc King at A.P. Watt. (Oct. 3)

Forecast: A blurb from Ian Rankin will alert his readers. Hill should also benefit from the rising popularity of Peter Robinson's Yorkshire mysteries in the U.S.

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