The Detective Fiction of Reginald Hill

“Reginald Hill’s stories must certainly be among the best now being written, and with each successive book he seems to be widening his range.  He reverses the normal priorities of detective fiction: character is always more important than plot – although plot, and well-constructed, too, there always most undoubtedly is.”

– T.J. Binyon, Times Literary Supplement, 26th December 1980

Although he has been writing crime stories featuring the fat, coarse and cunning Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and the more sensitive Inspector Pascoe since the publication of A Clubbable Woman in 1970, it was not until the appearance of Recalled to Life in 1992 that Hill showed what he was really capable of: an extremely long and complex detective novel with a plot spanning decades and continents, characters who are neither black nor white but a mixture of the two (as we all are), humour and tragedy in equal measure, and a shocking – yet inevitable – ending.  Since that time he has given us the sparkling Austen pastiche, Pictures of Perfection; the Great War novel The Wood Beyond, which, despite some arbitrariness in the solution (a fault to which Hill, like many of his contemporaries, has been prone), pushed the boundaries of the genre; the breathtaking On Beulah Height, with its drowned village, missing children and chief clue hidden in full sight on the first page; and the linguistic tour de force Dialogues of the Dead.  Since the publication of Recalled to Life, which borrowed its title and theme from A Tale of Two Cities, Hill has been the Dickens of the detective story, using a popular form to say something serious.



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These pages copyright Nicholas Lester Fuller, 2000--2010. Created 5th December 2004.