Splitting a main character into two parts that compliment and confound each other has worked well for mystery writers from Conan Doyle to Rex Stout (and for non-mystery writers such as Patrick O'Brian in his Aubrey/Maturin sea stories). Reginald Hill's unique contributions to this form are his books about two policemen in an unnamed city in Northern England, Detectives Dalziel (pronounced "Dee-al" in the TV version) and Pascoe. Both get to show off their strengths and shortcomings in this wonderfully macabre second book in the series; Dalziel's brawn and instinct meets Pascoe's intellect as the two investigate pornographic "snuff" films in which the actors really wind up dead.
Love, or at least pornography, are for sale at the arty Calliope Kinema Club on posh, proper Wilkinson Square. According to Yorkshire police superintendent Dalziel, it's all legal. Detective Peter Pascoe, however, doesn't believe it. His dentist, who knows real broken teeth and blood when he sees them, insists that the pretty actress wasn't playing a part when it happened. But the action that puts Pascoe into the picture is homicide. The sudden death of the Calliope's proprietor soon turns a sleazy sex flick into serious police business. And now Dalziel and Pascoe are looking into the all-too-human desire for pain, pleasure...and murder.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: Hill begins to hit his stride with Dalziel and Pascoe, January 26, 2003 Reviewer: sdixonsf from San Francisco, CA United States Detective Inspector Peter Pascoe's dentist, who is used to seeing broken jaws and broken teeth, tells Pascoe that a scene in an X-rated film where a women is beaten is real, not staged. This leads Peter and his wife Ellie to check out the Calliope Kinema Club, a trendy venue for soft-core porn in an otherwise proper and well-to-do neighborhood. Sergeant Wield already has the place under surveillance, due to neighborhood complaints and scandalized locals, but Wield and Pascoe's Boss Superintendant Dalziel is skeptical that anyone is guilty of anything more than voyeurism until an indisputable murder turns up the heat. The books are labeled the Dalziel and Pascoe books, but I always think of them as the Peter Pascoe / Ellie Pascoe / Edgar Wield / Andy Dalziel books, and all four characters get to shine in this one. Not as innovative as most of the later books in the series, but still an excellent police procedural, and well as showing much of the sly humor and characterization that makes Hill's books such a delight.