cover image Blood Sympathy

Blood Sympathy

Reginald Hill. St. Martin's Press, $19.95 (220pp) ISBN 978-0-312-11249-3

Hill's newest detective is Joe Sixsmith, a fat, black, balding lathe operator declared redundant in Thatcherite England. Middle-aged, likable Joe has set himself up as a PI in Luton, Bedfordshire, although all he knows about the profession is what he learned from the movies. Joe, who loves his alcoholic cat Whitey, blunders his way through a nearly indescribable plot that begins with the gory slaughter of a family of four and includes a plane crash, voodoo, seduction by an alleged witch, dope smuggling and racial clashes. And the hero gets the girl in the end. What Joe has going for him is serendipity and empathy; the plot is just there for laughs. Hill has written 23 previous novels, most starring his other admirable, entertaining series heroes, cops Dalziel and Pascoe. (Oct.)