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Midnight Fugue: A Dalziel and Pascoe Mystery (Dalziel and Pascoe Mysteries) Hardcover – October 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The short time frame of British author Hill's strong 24th Dalziel and Pascoe procedural (after 2008's The Price of Butcher's Meat) maximizes suspense without sacrificing either characterization or humor. Andy Dalziel, an irascible dinosaur of a police officer who's only just returned to the Mid-Yorkshire force after recovering from a serious injury, is tracked down by Gina Wolfe, whose policeman husband, Alex, has been missing for seven years. Alex disappeared while under investigation by internal affairs, who suspected him of leaking information to a major criminal target. Gina was on the verge of having Alex declared legally dead, until she received a recent magazine photo clearly showing Alex or his double. Dalziel's decision to assist Gina unofficially in finding out what became of Alex leads to his placing a colleague in jeopardy. Numerous subplots don't slow the pace, a testament to Hill's skill in putting all the pieces together. (Oct.)
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“The short time frame of British author Hill’s strong 24th Dalziel and Pascoe procedural (after 2008’s The Price of Butcher’s Meat) maximizes suspense without sacrificing either characterization or humor. . . . Numerous subplots don’t slow the pace, a testament to Hill’s skill in putting all the pieces together.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
A must for series fans (Booklist)
“Hill keeps a particularly nasty surprise up his sleeve for last. The accelerated timetable gives Dalziel and Pascoe’s 24th a Rube Goldberg effervescence that contrasts effectively with the pervasive sadness beneath.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“This seemingly simple case turns into a major puzzler... Hill writes of these tricky matters in a fluid and witty style that eventually lifts the old lion from his torpor and restorse him to roaring health.” (New York Times Book Review)
“This complicated mystery with great characters and a fast pace will attract Hill’s loyal following and fans of British police procedurals. Hill is a very talented wordsmith as well, and his works should appeal to those seeking out well-written, carefully crafted crime novels.” (Library Journal)
“The sleights of hand that Hill manages to pull off are stunning, not to mention the sly, wry style of a rogue with a dry wit and a sharp eye. . . . It’s a tour de force that Hill manages to pull off with ease.” (Providence Journal)
“Hill’s achievement here should be savoured. . . . It’s a tiny perfect thrill of perfection. This is one of Hill’s best novels, one of the best this year or any year.” (Globe and Mail (Toronto))
“Hill juggles multiple intertwined subplots and characters, inflicting plenty of murder and mayhem on the populace before Dalziel wraps it all up in one 24-hour day. As clever and twisty as ever, this is another winner from an old master.” (Portsmouth Herald)
“[Hill] does it again in his new Dalziel and Pascoe book, Midnight Fugue, succeeding in brilliant fashion... His writing is assured and relaxed. His touch is deft, and he even allows Fat Andy to show a caring and sentimental side, something surprising in the great old copper’s senior years.” (Toronto Star)
“[The] most amusing and satisfying of all the Dalziel and Pascoe books. . . . A master of the British police procedural.” (Tampa Tribune)
One of the best of the Brits, Reginald Hill, adds another winner to his résumé and another chapter to the saga of Dalziel and Pascoe—with Midnight Fugue (San Diego Union-Tribune)
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On the surface, this story is all about trying to find Gina Wolfe's husband who went missing 7 years earlier. Gina needs to find him because if he's still alive then she can't have him declared legally dead, something that needs to happen before she can go on to marry her former husband's friend. Fleur Delay needs to find the errant Mr. Wolfe because he's a threat to "The Man." Various tabloid journalists (of less-than-stellar ethics) are trying to find Mr. Wolfe because of his connection to The Man's son who is up and coming in his political party. Dalziel is trying to find Mr. Wolfe because helping out is a favor to Gina's fiance. Pascoe is trying to solve a murder of a journalist connected with all of this and he has to view Dalziel as aiding a possible suspect (i.e., Gina Wolfe). Below the surface, Dalziel is also trying to re-establish himself in his police precinct as the great bull he once was. Pascoe is unsure whether Dalziel should be back to work so soon. Wield is certain that Dalziel will make it back to his leading position with some time.
Hill retools some of his best story-telling devices for Midnight Fugue. Besides at least one instance of Andy Dalziel using his favorite word ("jacksie" -- it just wouldn't be Dalziel if he didn't say that), we have interstitial narration (used effectively and with slight variations in previous novels "On Beulah Height" and "Arms and the Women"). We also have the eerie -- and in this case quite satisfying -- surprise identity revealed at the end (again, used effectively and somewhat differently in "Deadheads," "Dialogue of the Dead," and "Death Comes for the Fat Man"). What I loved most about this novel is that, after reading the coda (or, postlude), you could re-read the entire story as leading to this as the ending instead of merely to concluding Gina Wolfe's search.
Overall, it's a much shorter book than Hill has published recently for this series, but the story is so masterfully crafted that it won't matter. This delightfully compact fugue is as satisfying as a three-act grand opera.
There's a lot of backstory here to fill out our omniscient view of the action and some of it wears on a bit, but when the action returns to Dalziel, the focus tightens, as does the story. And our favourite squad characters are back with a little bit more to do than they've had in recent books: Detective Sergeant Wield (I like this character) and DC Novello are well-played and necessary to the action.
This is a little more madcap than most of Hill's offerings, probably because of the timeframe, but it is more fun than wearing. And who could miss with a villain named Fleur Delay?
Author Reginald Hill has put together a competent mystery with much of the usual splendid turn of phrase and incomparable character development, but this one is without the magnificent flights of fancy and creative fireworks that can be found in many of his works. I don't read anything into that. "Midnight Fugue" is a thoroughly enjoyable novel and, I would seriously doubt, signals any waning of this author's unique competence or imagination.
I recommend the book to any mystery fan, but also suggest some patience with it. There is a long, slow and intriguing buildup to a first-rate ending that squares most accounts albiet in a kind of relativist way that Reginald Hill is want to do. When all is said and done, there are few writers out there who are the equal of this one.