The old trick of splitting a central character into two very different parts and using the tension to create literary sparks has worked for writers as diverse as Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin) and Patrick O'Brian (Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin). Nobody in the mystery field does it better these days than Hill, whose down-and-dirty Inspector Dalziel (pronounced Dah-eel in the A&E TV series) jigs and jousts wonderfully with his smart, sensitive sidekick Pascoe. Their latest outing is one of the best in the series, with Pascoe digging up some old bones and family secrets from his own past. (Other Dalziel/Pascoe books include Blood Sympathy, Exit Lines, Pictures of Perfection, A Pinch of Snuff, Ruling Passion.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Killing fields, past and present, October 18, 2003 Reviewer: Rick D. from Falls Church, Virginia, United States If you are already familiar with Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe series, recommending this one won't be a hard sell. If not, check it out and discover one of the contemporary masters of the crime novel. This is an ambitious work; Hill clearly intends to transcend the police procedural genre, and includes a parallel story set in the ghastly killing fields of Passchendaele in the Great War that dovetails with the present-day murder case that is the nominal subject of the book. It must be said that the interwoven story of Pascoe's ancestor (who shares his name and is involved with ancestors of suspects in the killing that Pascoe and Dalziel are investigating), strains credulity; it's a literary construct that doesn't really come off. But who cares? Hill as a writer is otherwise at the top of his game. It's full of witty dialogue (if only people in life -- myself included -- could set off such a string of verbal firecrackers, how much more entertaining our daily round would be!). Dalziel's Yorkshire dialect is a constant source of delight: I hope expressions like "nowt," "tha's," "lass," et al. aren't dying out. And as usual, the characters, especially the detectives and Pascoe's wife Ellie, are drawn in psychological depth. The novel can be enjoyed as pure entertainment. But, notwithstanding the parallel story's unlikelihood, it offers a window into the ungodly horrors of trench warfare in 1917 and the savagery of military "justice" in the British army of the time.