Reginald Hill, Pictures of Perfection
For more than forty brilliant years Reginald Hill became the British male crime writer that the others pointed to for the high level of skill, consistency and dazzling experimentation which he brought to crime fiction through the Dalziel and Pascoe series. Pictures of Perfection is the second of the four Dalziel & Pascoe novels issued by Scorpion Press, with a brilliant discussion of the merits of the series by Canadian crime writer Eric Wright.
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Reginald Hill was a northerner and after attending Oxford where he read English he taught at a school in Essex before moving to a Further Education College in Leeds, Yorkshire. When he set out to become a crime novelist with A Clubbable Woman (1970) Hill brought an ambition to do three significant things in this and his subsequent work: to re-work Falstaff and Prince Hal in his detective duo of Dalziel and Pascoe; to open up a commentary on the state of the social affairs in the country, in particular in northern England and on the cause of feminism; and thirdly, if that were not sufficient, to devise new perimeters for the detective/crime format by drawing on broader literary devises and forms. Over the course of more than forty brilliant years Reginald Hill became the British male crime writer that the others pointed to for the high level of skill, consistency and dazzling experimentation which he brought to crime fiction.
Much has been written about Dalziel and Pascoe – what they represent and what they tell us about the changing world around us. Similarly, Pascoe’s wife Ellie tells us much about the changing role of women; while the homosexual Sergeant Wield allows us into another area of equality and changing social perceptions. The latter books in the series explore the limits of crime fiction. The BBC bought the rights to Dalziel and Pascoe and twelve series were shown between 1996 and 2007.
Plotline: High in the Mid-Yorkshire dales stand the pretty village of Enscombe, proud survivor of all that history has thrown at it. But now market forces mass at the gates and the old way of life seems to be changing fast. The Law can do little to stop the ever-growing crimes against tradition, but when a policeman goes missing DCI Pascoe gets worried. Andy Dalziel thinks he’s overreacting until the normally phlegmatic Sergeant Wield shows signs of changing his first impressions of village life. Over two eventful days a new pattern emerges, of lust and lying, of family feuds and ancient injuries, of frustrated desires and unbalanced minds. Finally, inevitably, everything comes to a bloody climax at the Squire’s Reckoning, when the villagers gather each Lady Day to feast and pay old debts ….and not even the presence of the Mid-Yorkshire CID trio can change the course of history…
Pictures of Perfection (1994) is a delightful experimental crime novel inspired by Jane Austen. An amusing take on country life with multiple points of view, it for change, has Sergeant Wield centre-stage. This edition of 75 signed & numbered copies has Canadian crime writer and professor of Eric Wright with an appreciation of Reginald Hill. Its a brilliant discussion of the merits of the series.