cover image There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union: A Novella and Five Stories

There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union: A Novella and Five Stories

Reginald Hill. Foul Play Press, $16.95 (230pp) ISBN 978-0-88150-119-3

With gleeful malice aforethought, Hill explodes the genre of the short murder tale and diverts it to his own wicked, original ends. These six stories by the creator of mysteries featuring Detective Dalziel and Sergeant Pascoe ( An Advancement of Learning ), are a rare pleasure, probing murder and mayhem with keen intellect and wit. In the title tale, witnesses to a seemingly paranormal event on an office elevator become prime suspects who cringe before a Soviet police inspector bent on explaining away the incident. ``Bring Back the Cat!'' parodies detective fiction as it introduces Joe Sixsmith, a sly West Indian PI who investigates a stray feline's disappearance. Murder is almost an afterthought in ``Poor Emma,'' a delicious send-up of Jane Austen's style and upper-class milieu, and in ``Auteur Theory,'' which spotlights the incestuous world of actors at each other's throats during a film shooting. There's no murder in ``The Bull Ring,'' set in a WW I French training camp where a soldier's freak death draws together an English recruit and the corporal who torments him. Hill also writes espionage tales under the name Patrick Ruell. (Dec.)