Saturday, April 17, 2010


Author: Reginald Hill
Publisher: Delecourt Press
Copyright: 1999, HC, 408 pages
ISBN: 0-385-33279-3

Cover copy calls this a work of intricacy, precision and psychological complexity. I cannot agree more emphatically. Yes, it's another in what one hopes is an endless line of Dalziel and Pascoe mysteries. And yes, it contains powerful, evocative writing.

"Here four men labored with shovels, their faces wrapped with scarves, not for disguise but as barrier against the stench of the decaying bat droppings they disturbed, while high above them a sea of leathery bodies rippled and whispered uneasily as the sound of digging and the glow of bull-lamps drifted up to the natural vault."

Peter Pascoe's wife, Ellie, is hard at work on her book. Yes, she's hoping to be a published author one day. And then, abruptly, inexplicably, there is an abduction attempt on her. Though the attempt is thwarted by Ellie's nimble-mindedness, the act sets in motion a vast, complex investigation and a plot that ranges over wide spaces of the English coastal area and pits D&P against some very nasty characters. Adding to the complications are difficulties over jurisdictional questions affecting the National Interest.

This is a complex story with a large cast of interesting characters and a strong sub-plot. It is an excellent novel by an excellent writer. Hill handles his characters, his plot and his setting with consummate skill. .More than ten years old now, it’s well worth seeking out.

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