Thursday, August 4, 2011
Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill
Reginald Hill is in a class of his own. His mystery series featuring Dalziel “the fat man” and Pascoe is a long-running masterpiece of British humor. Hill populates the series with many characters and much activity, but exhibits masterful control in keeping everyone doing…the wrong thing. Once again Dalziel, manages to extricate himself from an ambiguous-looking situation that would be career-ending for anyone else, and comes up accepting kudos from his coworkers—all except Pascoe, who thinks Dalziel might just as well retire before he does them all in. Dalziel knows he is not long for the force, but decides to hang on for the sheer cussedness of it, and the pain he knows it gives those who long to take his place.
I did not read the series in order—Hill is incredibly prolific, and has written 24 books in the Dalziel and Pascoe series. In this novel, we learn that Dalziel has survived a bomb attack previously and is back on the job a little worse for wear. He has forgotten which day it is and ends up driving madcap to work early on a Sunday morning. Just as well, since he has two cars following him which he needs to sort out before he gets back into the maelstrom that is work.
Dalziel is a “fat man,” but what we love about him are his appetites. He is enthusiastic, wily, generous, experienced, and has this case figured out long before he can prove anything. Hill even lets us into the secret, knowing full well that we have no way of uncovering information before he decides to share it with us. We love Dalziel because he is so much more incorrigible than we would ever allow ourselves to be, but he is that rare creature that always knows what justice is. We can reliably place ourselves in his hands and know that he’ll work out whatever trouble we face—though not without a few bumps and scrapes along the way.
I listened to the audio version from Whole Story Audio Books, and thought Jonathan Keeble did a brilliant job of the reading by distinguishing characters by accent, and giving the whole a perfectly comprehensible pace.
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