The Death of Dalziel by Reginald Hill

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The Death of Dalziel by Reginald Hill

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Caught in a semtex explosion, Andy Dalziel hovers between life and death as Peter Pascoe pursues the killers and dodges the Security Services to track down the killers. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 608 Date: October 2007
Publisher: Harper
ISBN: 978-0007194865

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The terraced houses in Mill Street looked nothing out of the ordinary. In fact only two of them were occupied – the video shop at number three and some offices in number six. PC Hector – not the sharpest knife in the mid-Yorkshire police's cutlery drawer – thought that he heard a noise like a shot and when he went into the video shop to investigate he was fairly certain that he saw a man with a gun. That's why, on a sizzling hot Bank Holiday afternoon superintendent Andy Dalziel is sat behind a police car in Mill Street when he's joined by DCI Peter Pascoe. They're just about to go into the video shop when a Semtex bomb detonates. Pascoe would have been killed if he hadn't been in the lee of Dalziel – and it looks as though it's only sheer bloody mindedness that's keeping Fat Andy away from the pearly gates, but for how long?

I did enjoy this book. I devoured it over the course of a couple of days when my mind really should have been on something else. The first thing that you'll notice is the strength of the characterisation. Dalziel – big Andy – is well-known from the small screen, along with Peter Pascoe, but there's a rare depth in the minor characters. We've seen Sergeant Wield in earlier books but the hapless Constable Hector has rather more than his usual walk-on comedy part. He's no less accident prone but we're gently nudged into realising that even the weakest can have strengths and skills which others lack.

Despite the fact that obesity is almost certainly a greater threat to the country than terrorism the Security Services feature regularly in modern crime fiction. Here the situation is more complex than most as there's an organisation called the Knights Templar which is doling out vigilante justice to people it believes to be guilty but who are beyond the reach of the law. They're killing mercilessly and always seem to be one step ahead of the police, who're also hampered by the need to be subservient to the Security Services. Could it be that there's a mole in the Security Services who's alerting the Knights Templar?

It's fashionable too to portray the Security Services as being out of control, almost renegade and certainly above the law. Reginald Hill is more measured, perhaps because the strength of his plot is such that he doesn't need to resort to such tactics. Most crime novels will never be read again, simply because you know whodunit but this is one of the exceptions. In fact you could almost say that it demands it – just to appreciate the skill that's gone into constructing the plot.

The writing is, as ever, of the highest standard. Sometimes you'll laugh out loud, sometimes you'll be close to tears but you'll still keep turning the pages. Great stuff.

This is top-of-the-range crime writing and for its like you'll need to look at the best of Ian Rankin or John Harvey. For something a little out of the mainstream and from an up-and-coming writer you might like to read our review of Raven Black by Ann Cleeves.

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Magda said:

It was my first ever encounter with the duo, and I loved it.