Reginald Hill was brought up in Cumbria, and has returned there after many years in Yorkshire. With his first crime novel, A Clubbable Woman, he was hailed as 'the crime novel's best hope' and thirty years on he has more than fulfilled that prophecy.
Cascading imagery and sinuous plot lines are utilized to stunning effect in Hill's latest Dalziel/Pascoe novel (The Wood Beyond, 1996, etc.), a flawless blend of mystery, ghost story and psychological thriller. Fifteen years ago, the remote Yorkshire village of Dendale was purposefully flooded in the creation of a reservoir. As most of the villagers moved to the next town, three young Dendale girls vanished, their disappearance never solved. Also vanished, presumably into the nearby moors, was Benny Lightfoot, a troubled loner and most likely suspect of rotund copper Andy Dalziel. Now, as the village is literally reappearing in a summer-long drought, Benny's return is proclaimed in graffiti, and a young girl disappears. Detective Superintendent Dalziel and his erudite partner, Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe, follow the current case. Pascoe's daughter, in the grip of a sometimes fatal disease, has nightmares about a demonic water monster who steals children. A classical concert is planned in the next village to celebrate the return of Elizabeth Wulfstan, an impressive young singer from Dendale whose translations of Mahler songs focus on dead children. This is merely the bare bones of Hill's multilayered masterpiece, in which he balances the droll interplay between the detectives, the gentle resonating of local legends and the slowly unfolding stories of numerous families shattered by secrets and sadness. From its ominous beginning to the wrenching conclusion, this, the 15th Dalziel/Pascoe tale, shows Hill at the top of his form. (July)
'On Beulah Height must rank as his best yet... Reginald Hill's
novels are really dances to the music of time'
Ian Rankin, Scotland on Sunday
'Few writers in the genre today have Hill's gifts: formidable
intelligence, quick humour, compassion and a prose style that
blends elegance and grace'
Donna Leon, Sunday Times