My reading in February

Posted: March 3, 2015 in Bernie Gunther, Book Awards, Dalziel and Pascoe, Historical, Italy, Reginald Hill, spy story

cc2zagrebricciardiarmsMy reading in February included A Colder War by Charles Cumming, a very good spy thriller, and The Lady From Zagreb, the tenth book in the Bernie Gunther series. My review of Philip Kerr’s  novel will appear on Euro Crime in due course. I also got about halfway through the excellent Viper by Maurizio De Giovanni, but we were going away for a few days and Viper’s cover includes an image of a dead prostitute sprawled over a bed.

I therefore decided to take  Arms and The Women [2000] by Reginald Hill to read at our luxurious bed and breakfast. This is a 611 page reg hillblockbuster, but a brilliant read, and I am now totally engrossed at page 237 by those quirky characters, Ellie Pascoe, Peter Pascoe, Andy Dalziel, Wieldy and Novello.

My reading over the last few years of Reginald Hill’s body of work has convinced me he is one of the greatest crime writers produced by this country since the war. I wonder if the failings of the later Dalziel and Pascoe television series have contributed to him not being rated as highly in some circles as some less deserving writers. That pesky WH Smith poll still really annoys me; Peter James 1, Val McDermid 3, Ian Rankin 4, Ruth Rendell 13, P.D.James 18, and Reginald Hill 48! 

Unfortunately once the television series lost Edgar Wield and Ellie Pascoe it never had that special quality retained in the novels. 

I haven’t read the Dalziel and Pascoe books in order, but when I started in 2010 to read them again after a long break I began with the  last in the series Midnight Fugue [2009], a pastiche of the TV series 24. In 2012 I read On Beulah Height [1998] and then went back to Deadheads [1983] and Underworld [1988]. I had a Dalziel and Pascoe addiction by now, and they became my holiday reading material of choice. In 2013 I read Bones and Silence [1990], Recalled to Life [1992], Pictures of Perfection [1994] , and The Wood Beyond [1995]. Last year I jumped forward, perhaps put off a little by the sheer bulk of some of the next books in the series, to The Death of Dalziel [2007] and A Cure for All Diseases [2008], a pastiche of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon. Reginald Hill did love his Jane Austen.

You would think you might become bored reading so many books by the same author with the same characters, but Reginald Hill alters his approach to each novel keep each book fresh, vital and full of humour. 

I will return to Viper, which is also a very good read, when I have finished Arms and the Women.  

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    I’m very glad you had a good reading month, Norman. And your reads do sound terrific (must get to that new Kerr! I’ll be looking forward to your review of it). I know exactly what you mean about leaving Viper behind, too. I’ve done that sort of thing when I’ve had to travel. People look at me strangely enough as it is… 😉

  2. Sarah says:

    I have Viper on my shelf to read. I know what you mean about covers too, Norman.

  3. Norman Price says:

    Thanks Margot and Sarah.
    We were staying at a new place so the slightly lurid cover was a no-no. I remember the covers on the Eberhard Mock novels by Marek Krajewski which were definitely not to be taken on public transport, or out of the house!

  4. Kathy D. says:

    Glad you had a good reading month. And good thinking not to bring Viper with that cover on vacation with you; you’d have to hide it in your room to read it.
    I have never gotten into reading Reginald Hill’s books, but I do like the TV series, enjoy the cast a great deal and Dalziel’s eccentricities. Though not as extreme as Nero Wolfe’s, they’re fun nevertheless.
    A good friend likes Hill’s books and I will get some at some point (sigh). Arms and the Woman sounds like an excellent read.

  5. tracybham says:

    I enjoyed reading about your reading of the Dalziel & Pascoe series, I read Bones and Silence in 2013, which means I should get back to reading them. I am reading in order, so Recalled to Life next. I have watched some of the TV series in 2014, and haven’t gotten to the point where Ellie Pascoe and Wield have left. So, enjoying them so far.

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