Reginald Hill, Recalled to Life
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. Recalled to Life (1992), a CWA Gold Dagger short-listed book, is the first of the four Dalziel & Pascoe novels issued by Scorpion Press.
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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, including Recalled to Life.
Plotline: The story is expertly told, skein by skein, with a new knot to be untied just when you think everything is clear’ Sunday Telegraph 1963. It was the year of the Profumo Scandal, the Great Train Robbery, the Kennedy Assassination – and the Mickeldore Hall Murder. The guests at the Hall that weekend had included a Tory minister, a CIA officer specializing in dirty tricks, a British diplomat with royal connections – and Cissy Kohler, a young American nanny who had come to England for love. And love kept her in England for nearly thirty years. In jail. For murder. Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel is convinced that Cissy Kohler was – and is – guilty. But, investigating further, he soon finds his certainties being eroded. Not a state of affairs Dalziel can put up with for long, particularly when his old mentor’s reputation is at stake. Not to mention his own! Recalled to Life is named for the title of the first chapter of A Tale of Two Cities. Quotes at the head of each chapter are taken from the Dickens work. Hill’s novel is indeed about people being “recalled to life” in various ways: released from prison after over two decades, in the case of one character; given a new, if brief, lease on life as in the case of Ellie Pascoe’s aging mother.
In this edition of 99 signed & numbered copies, CWA Diamond and Gold Dagger author Peter Lovesey, relishes the “blue remembered hills” and how the story of the various main characters flow through the novels. Recalled to Life (1992) was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel. He had previously won it for Bones and Silence (1990).