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Dialogues of the Dead Mass Market Paperback – September 30, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
Book 19 of 24 in the Dalziel and Pascoe Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Known for complex plotting, deep characterization and sly humor, Hill here adds to his string of brilliant psychological thrillers featuring two of Britain's most well-rounded detectives. Supt. Andy Dalziel (aka the Fat Man) is the ultimate ham on wry. He takes no pains to hide his enormous appetites, but it pleases him to hide his sharp mind behind crude behavior and ribald speech. He pretends to misunderstand the erudite conversation of the various intellectuals who inhabit the story and delights in puncturing their pompous pronouncements. When one expert adviser presents what he calls an "interesting" theory, Dalziel responds, "If you're waiting for a bus and a giraffe walks down the street, that's interesting. But it doesn't get you anywhere." Refined, polite, rock-solid Inspector Peter Pascoe is the perfect foil to his outlandish boss. Between them they've found truth in many a maze, but here both play background roles to rookie constable Bowler, inevitably nicknamed Hat. Hill's fans know his fondness for all sorts of wordplay, but he takes it to new level, for a word game is the crux of the mystery. The killer enters a short story competition with a piece, written in the form of a one-sided dialogue, that describes a murder and dares the police to untangle the clues planted therein. When they fail, another story submission arrives, describing a second murder. Five more people die before Pascoe's flash of insight illuminates the proper path. One final twist at the very end will take readers' breath away. (Jan. 2)Edgar, Diamond Dagger and Gold Dagger.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

People are dying in Mid-Yorkshire, UK, in what appear to be accidents: one man drowns in a shallow stream, while a young motorcyclist crashes into a tree. While wading through piles of stories that have been submitted for a fiction contest, the county library's reference librarian, Dick Dee, and his assistant, Rye Pomona, come across two stories titled "Dialogues" that give details of those deaths. When they realize that the stories were submitted before accounts of the deaths appeared in the local paper, Dick and Rye consult the area's newest law enforcement agent, handsome young detective Ethelbert "Hat" Bowler, who has been frequenting the library in the hopes of getting to know the beautiful Rye. He and his bosses, the irreverent, cantankerous Andy "Fat Man" Dalziel and the elegant Peter Pascoe, must analyze the cryptic "Dialogues" to find the killer they dub "The Wordman." This latest in Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe series is filled with clever wordplay; complex, articulate suspects; and an intricate, suspenseful plot. Recommended for public libraries. Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060528095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060528096
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,104,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Reginald Hill is spoiling me. His Dalziel and Pascoe books have become the most consistently original mystery series being written today. In each book, he not only plays with the conventions of the detective novel, but experiments with the very nature of storytelling itself.
There are only a few times in my life that immediately upon finishing a book, I've turned to the beginning and immediately reread it, but this book definitely warranted it. The puzzles within puzzles within puzzles were brilliant.
The book begins with a librarian and his assistant reading the entries for a local writing contest. One anonymous writer's submissions claim that two recent accidental deaths were actually murders. The police are skeptical, but some a third death occurs which is undoubtably murder, and Dalziel and Pascoe know they have a serial killer at work, a killer whose obsession with word games prompts his readers to call him the Wordman.
This is more than a simple mystery novel, but a wonderful exploration of words and meaning and storytelling. Even as the characters point out how words can twist and mislead, Hill twists and misleads us in those exact ways, even until the harrowing climax, and the wrenching unexpected twist that follows, and the brilliant last line that caps everything that has gone before. Hill is a master of words, and there is not one placed wrongly in this entire elaborate puzzle of a novel.
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Format: Hardcover
I have long been a fan of Reginald Hill, prefering his Dalziel and Pascoe to most other things he writes. And with this book, he has truly surpassed himself.
This is the best book i have read in 2001. (it was published in march 2001 here) and i enjoyed it more than i think i have ever enjoyed anything. Hill's plotting is superb, and his characters equally sublime.
This is truly a word puzzle, he lays out the clues for you along the way, but in such a way that you dont realize youre being fed clues (and in some cases red herrings) When you get to the end, it all makes some kind of glorious sense, and you wonder how stupid you were for missing all the little hints.
This IS his best d&p. and perosnally, it is probably my favourite book ever. (i speak nay in jest). the characters in this book are superb, especially Hat Bowler and Rye Pomona. They are rather simple, (alright, only Hat is, Rye is as deep as the maraianas trench) but his simplicity is compelling. He holds some kind of innocence, a son-like quality, which just makes you care for him and want it all to work out well for the poor lad.
It was a great book, until the end. Upon which it became a SUPERB book! Hill really outdoes himself with the end (and i really really hope they didnt change it one iota in the american version, as they sometimes tend to do, because it really was a great ending). For pages he's tricking you, then suddenly you see it all. You're in shock, then he explains it, making you feel like an idiot for not spotting it sooner.
Really, you should read some of the previous d & p books, as there are some vague references to them. You can probably get by without having read them, but if you read An Advancement of Learning, it will certainly help you.
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Format: Hardcover
Nobody knows if the short and crude letters to newspapers signed Jack the Ripper were really written by that maniac, but general consensus is that they were. (As were Son of Sam's) In any case that has become a tried-and-true gambit to use in mystery novels.
Here it is carried to extremes beyond belief. But that doesn't matter unless you want all your mysteries based on nits, grits, and grunting cop work. Hill has developed his own style, combining really earthy police procedural novel with airy intellectual gamesmanship. In his case it works very well (better than it did with Michael Innes, for example). The fact that taunting dialogues are not normally sent to the investigators except on a primitive level like Jack, Sam, and Zodiac, does not detract from this really intriguing story. The methodology of the mad serial killer falls into the classic ABC
format of Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen, but practically no reader will ever suss out this gimmick.
The identity of the murderer is easy enough to deduce from the plentiful clues (nicely spiced up with red-herring suspects who also fit the bill), but you will still be blown away by the epilogue, which ranks up with John Dickson Carr's "Burning Court" as a stunning ending. I hope I'm not giving too much away, but that only applies to people who haven't yet read the book but intend to.
Some reviewers on this site knock the book (as they did the last one, "Arms and the Women") for having irrelevant or distracting interpolations from the thoughts or writings of an undisclosed character, or else when the source is known, just unimportant padding. Not the case! Hill's books are getting longer and longer (aren't most mystery writers doing that these days?), but they are not padded out.
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Format: Hardcover
Words like unique, creative, compelling, imaginative, althought highly relevant, do not do justice to this masterpiece. Hill is a master stylist, certainly one of the two or three best crime WRITERS (others: Cook, Bill James, Mike Connelly (several of his novels). And apart from the crime aspect of his novels he has something provocative to say about the human condition (e.g. Pictures, Beulah Hill). The framework of this novel, however, surpasses anything else he has written. And what he puts in the frame is a word painting of such depth, ambiguity, ingenuity that it invades the careful reader, paradoxically both subtly and also like a hammer coming down on a recalcitrant human nail. The plot starts as seeming fantasy, but gradually drapes itself in profound reality. This novel introduces a news young "copper" who nicely contrasts with Dalziel and Pascoe. Several other non-cop characters are developed with panache, but at all times come across as richly drawn, realistic characters. The ending is riveting and will make you want to go back and reread the novel, or at least large sections. This book rivals The Four Last Things as the best suspense novel I've read (over 500 novels) and surpasses the powerful Breakheart Hill and Connelly's marvelous Void Moon. I highly recommend this novel.
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