February 03, 2004

The Wood Beyond
Recalled to Life
Arms and The Women
Dialogues of the Dead

by Reginald Hill

These are four more books in the Dalziel/Pascoe series by Hill. After reading On Beulah Height I just had to find more, it was that good. After a trip to the two Large Chain Bookstores in my area and a side trip to my local independent store, I came home with nothing. Zip, zero, nada. It was exasperating but there is a mystery bookstore in town that I normally avoid since a visit there is usually a big hit on the wallet so I called them and, joy!, had them set these aside for me.

Will has reviewed them before and given excellent plot summaries so I will skip that. However, what struck me reading these so closely together is that each book had several layers and one of them is always a text, whether it's a diary, a story etc., that either mirrors the plot or is key to the mystery the detectives are trying to solve. It was fascinating in Arms and the Women to watch Ellie, Pascoe's wife, write a story about Odysseus and Aeneas meeting on the island of Calypso and base Odysseus on Dalziel. In The Woods Beyond it is Pascoe's great-great-grandfather's war diary from WWI that provides the subtext. Very interesting.

Another thing that stands out when dashing thru the books one after the other is the way Hill plays with long words. There were times I literally had to look things up in the dictionary because he was using adjectives and nouns I had never seen before. Ever. Dialogues with the Dead has characters playing a hyped-up version of Scrabble that uses word play and puns in multiple languages and Hill just goes wild tossing off polysyllabic mysteries that beg to be checked on.

Plus the mysteries are so well plotted I almost never figured them out ahead of time. And I find Dalziel, a truly gross man, compelling. He's fat, sweaty, cynical and abrasive but there is something that makes you unable to take your eyes away from him and after a bit you find he's messing around with your mind.

Now I just have to find more of them. There is always Amazon, I guess.

Posted by Will Duquette at February 3, 2004 06:17 PM | TrackBack

Will, since when have you been referring to yourself in the third person? Ian is unsure what to make of this....

Posted by: Ian at February 4, 2004 04:19 AM

Deb actually wrote the reviews and somehow Will got his name on them....

Posted by: Deb at February 4, 2004 05:07 AM
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