Synopses & Reviews
Hailed by the New York Times
as the master of form and sorcerer of style, Reginald Hill is undoubtedly at the top of his form in this gripping story of a mysterious death that echoes one in the past.
Somewhere distantly a church clock began to strike midnight. In the muffling fog, it sounded both familiar and threatening, like the bell on a warning buoy tolled by the ocean's rhythmic swell.
Yorkshire's coppers Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe are investigating the suicide of prominent businessman Pal Maciver. It seems to be a clear-cut case: he shot himself while sitting at his desk in his locked study.
But things are not quite what they seem. When Pascoe digs deeper, he finds threads going back to another, almost identical death that of Maciver's father. And even more disturbing: Pascoe's boss, Detective Superintendent Dalziel, was the officer on that case.
With Dalziel checking his every move, Pascoe is forced to lead his own investigation, plunging into the past to uncover truths about the Maciver family, particularly Pal's relationship with his step-mother, the beautiful and enigmatic Kay Kafka. He soon realizes that the implications of Maciver's death stretch far beyond the borders of Yorkshire. And when a key witness exotic hooker Dolores, Lady of Pain disappears, the death takes on a far more complicated and mysterious face.
"One part traditional English whodunit and one part shadowy corporate thriller, Diamond Dagger winner Hill's 21st Dalziel/Pascoe mystery (after 2003's Death's Jest-Book) weaves a complex and deeply satisfying tale. Pal Maciver is found dead, an apparent suicide, in a locked room of the old family house in Yorkshire. The circumstances mimic the suicide of his father, a former Ashur-Mac corporation executive, 10 years before. A book of Emily Dickinson poems found at the scene may hold clues to both deaths. Called in to investigate, detectives Peter Pascoe and Andy Dalziel find themselves entering an ever-widening and ever more intricate web of relationships. The particulars of some of these relationships hint at murder rather than suicide. Kay Kafka, Pal Maciver's stepmother, is particularly well drawn, a mixture of sadness, salaciousness, possible malice and cool intelligence. As the novel nimbly moves from character to character, it also calls into question the motives of Ashur-Mac, whose arms dealings ring a note of present-day relevance. Throughout, Pascoe and Dalziel are their usual witty, intelligent selves; they continue to be two of the more interesting police detectives in modern crime fiction. The descriptions of Dalziel are particularly fine: 'like a shark dumped in a swimming pool, Dalziel provided a new and unignorable focus of attention.' Hill has provided readers with a superior example of the mystery form one with a deliciously cold sting in the final pages. Agent, Caradoc King at A.P. Watt. (Oct. 3)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A cut-and-dried case morphs into a cold-case scenario in this wickedly clever, classic Brit-mystery puzzle, loaded with Yorkshire atmosphere and mordant wit." Booklist
"Topnotch crime fiction from a master." Library Journal
"Pared down and brisker than last year's behemoth Death's Jest-book, this 21st pairing of crime fiction's most entertaining odd couple is a dazzler-Hill's best in years." Kirkus Reviews
"Hill's sophisticated classicist style invests even the most vile and brutish behavior with literary refinement." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"These novels, this one in particular, are very learned and intelligent, but they wear it so lightly that if Hill chooses they can be rather light-hearted, shading the real darkness beneath and the serious comments he is making....It's absolutely hilarious, too. Hill has a sparkling wit which makes the book bounce along and the reader react with a kind of elated joy." Fiona Walker, Mystery Ink
The "sorcerer of style" (New York Times Book Review) is at the top of his form in this suspenseful story of a mysterious death that echoes one in the past.
About the Author
Reginald Hill is a native of Cumbria and a former resident of Yorkshire, the setting for his novels featuring Superintendent Dalziel and DCI Pascoe. Their appearances have won him numerous awards, including a CWA Gold Dagger and the Car-tier Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award. The Dalziel and Pascoe stories have also been adapted into a hugely popular BBC TV series.