Monday 7 April 2008

Dalziel and Pascoe are back

Reginald Hill’s excellent and highly original collection of stories There are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union has just been reprinted in paperback. The title dates it - in fact, I read it not long before I met Reg for the first time, at a Crime Writers’ Association get-together, around twenty years ago. This was, of course, long before the enormously successful BBC television series featuring Dalziel and Pascoe – in fact, it was long before the much less successful and thankfully short-lived Yorkshire TV version of the characters hit the screen, featuring the highly unlikely casting of Hale and Pace as the two detectives. Reg and his wife Pat have become friends in the intervening years and I owe him a lot, not only for so much reading pleasure, but also for the encouragement and help he’s given to me in my writing career.

It’s a special pleasure to report, therefore, that a brand new Dalziel and Pascoe novel has just hit the shelves: A Cure for all Diseases. It’s another hefty volume – well over 500 pages – so it will require time to be set aside. As a review of his last novel noted, his books ‘demand intense concentration’; they are densely written and complex, but the reviewer also noted that they are worth that investment of concentration.

Because Reg Hill has been so prolific over the years, it’s not easy to pick out a favourite novel of his. I much enjoyed The Only Game, which he originally published under the pen-name Patrick Ruell. I am a huge fan of Bones and Silence and On Beulah Height, but under pressure to make a choice, I’d plump for Dialogues of the Dead as the best of the Dalziel and Pascoe novels. It’s wonderfully witty, and also very clever. For all the jokes that stud his work, Hill is a fiercely intelligent writer who has helped to raise the standards of detective fiction for upwards of thirty years.

He’s also a fine short story writer, and the newly reprinted paperback is a reminder of this. As far as stories not in this collection are concerned, ‘The Rio de Janeiro Paper’ is brilliant, as are ‘On the Psychiatrist’s Couch’ and ‘The Game of Dog’. I’m proud that the latter stories were written especially for anthologies that I edited. To read the manuscripts was not just enjoyable, but genuinely exciting.


j. morris said...

I'm a Hill fan too -- and yes, it's hard to pick a favorite. But I'll cast a vote for "A Killing Kindness," which has all the typical Hill virtues plus one of the cleverest (and most unsettling) dying-message clues ever.

Martin Edwards said...

John, while I prefer some of the other books, that's certainly a good one and I agree it's a brilliant clue, worthy of any of the great Golden Age writers.

Shuku said...

I just got hold of 'There Are No Ghost in the Soviet Union' today and I'm gleefully devouring it, on the strength of your recommendation. The bookstore -doesn't- have any of your work in it right now! I suppose being in Malaysia does occasionally retard some books being brought over but this is silly! I want to read the Arsenic Labyrinth!

Several posts-worth rolled into one, but the Gormley sculptures are absolutely majestic. Even in the photos the sheer sense of scale is immense. I'd love to see them in person someday just to fully appreciate the effect.

And the Lit and Phil? Makes me droooooooool. Oh what a gorgeous, lovely, -beautiful- place; that's book heaven and more!


Martin Edwards said...

Hope you can make it to the UK one day, Shuku! And that you enjoy the Reg Hill stories.