Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Death Comes for the Fat Man ($7.99), by Reginald Hill

Soteriological means a branch of theology dealing with salvation through Jesus Christ. Remember that. You'll need it if you read this book.

I often point to Reginald Hill (one of Jill's favorite authors) as an example of someone who is able to write two very disparate voices convincingly. Exceedingly well, even. Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe represent the yin and yang of Yorkshire policing styles. One is bluster and blunt, the other is smooth and charm. What happens when bluster and blunt is suddenly out of commission, the victim of a bomb explosion, and in extended negotiations with Death, who has come for Fat Andy? Pascoe finds himself playing both roles, and I think Hill must have had a good old time leading Pascoe on a merry, schizophrenic chase.

Hill takes on a very contemporary topic in the latest paperback release in his famous series: terrorism. Vigilantes are besieging England, venting their own form of justice on suspected terrorists and sometimes catching the innocent, like Dalziel, in their plots. Pascoe's anger, sorrow, and frustration lead him to enter into an alliance with a national security agency, an organization he is not certain will help or hinder his efforts. Then Pascoe's wife, Ellie, is in the wrong place at the wrong time, and soon he has another reason to expend all his energy in hunting down the most dangerous of the groups.

But Hill's plot is the least of why this book is a good read.

Although you may need a dictionary close at hand, Hill doesn't set language as a stumbling block for the reader. Despite the length of the book -- 440 pages, a hefty size for an average mystery -- like a poet, Hill doesn't use any word unnecessarily. Twenty-two entries into this series, I still enjoy Hill's humor, delight to the interplay between Dalziel and Pascoe, chafe sometimes at Ellie's stubbornness, and thumb the Dickens out of my dictionary.

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