Death Comes for the Fat Man by Reginald Hill

April 9, 2007 at 1:02 pm (Book review, books)

Those in the know have long rated Reginald Hill very near the summit of writers in the genre of crime fiction. Certainly his rapier-like wit, elegant writing, memorable characters, and splendid sense of place more than justify the high regard in which he is held. So why is he not better known and appreciated in the U.S.? Hard to say. For one thing, I have seen no evidence that his publisher actively promotes his books here. The clamor for attention is so great at this point , the field so crowded, that individual authors really need an extra push in order to stand out. Up until a few years ago, the great Ruth Rendell was in a similar situation. She then switched publishers to Crown, where she was promised increased exposure through advertising and other means. They were as good as their word, and she now has a much larger readership here than she had hitherto. It helps, of course, that she is such a superb writer. Well, so is Reginald Hill. Get on it, HarperCollins, or switch publishers, Reg!

DEATH COMES FOR THE FAT MAN, the latest in Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series, delivers as promised: great story , fascinating characters, super snappy dialog. Although “Fat Man” Andy Dalziel (pronouced Dee-all) is put out of commission early in the novel by being rather too close to a powerful explosion, other entertaining and intriguing dramatis personae rush in to fill the gap (the rather large gap!) and succeed beautifully. This is an unusually topical novel for this series: terrrorism is the engine that drives the plot. But it is actually a kind of reverse terrorism, in which the purported terrorists are themselves terrorized. By whom? Therein lies the mystery, which Detective Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe struggles to solve almost singlehandedly, all the while desperately hoping that his boss, the Fat Man himself, will emerge from a comatose state to once again regale his friends and colleagues with his coarse, north country humor and sage (or seemingly sage) pronouncements.

A rare treat – don’t miss it!

1 Comment

  1. Cornucopia of crime fiction « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] there, notably Peter Robinson’s reliably outstanding Alan Banks series, the equally terrific Dalziel and Pascoe books by Reginald Hill, and Peter Turnbull’s Hennessey and Yellich novels, set most picturesquely […]

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