Reginald Hill is dead

by Harry on January 15, 2012

Guardian obit here. Whenever I have written about mysteries on CT, Henry has put in a word for Reginald Hill. Quite rightly: by the late eighties Hill was one of the 3 or 4 best mystery writers in the English language, and, of that group, the most effortlessly enjoyable (the others?: James, Barnard, and, until he died, Symons. Go on, tell me I’m wrong). He is most famous for his Dalziel and Pascoe books, mainly for the combination of complex plotting, interesting delightful characters, and many very comedic moments. The first 5 or 6 are fairly straightforward whodunnit/police procedurals (with the exception of Deadheads which defies one of the central conventions of the whodunnit), but one reason Hill became so good is that he experimented, frequently, in the novels, with style, format, and, increasingly often, convention. Most of his non-series books (his other series about Joe Sixmith, a black detective in Luton, was much more relentlessly humorous) were written in the 70s and early 80’s, often under pseudonyms (he has published under at least 4 names, maybe more), before he got to be really good. But the last two were brilliant, especially The Woodcutter, which is riveting, as good as any of the Dalziel/Pascoe books.

Or as good as any so far. Honestly, I was expecting him to live another 15 years at least, yielding 5 or 6 more, so was sickened when I read my mum’s email this morning, which started “No more Dalziel..”. But, according the wiki page, there is one more to come, which this page seems to confirm. So, one more to come.