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Reginald Hill, Recalled to Life

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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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Reg HillReginald 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).

4.50 out of 5

2 reviews for Reginald Hill, Recalled to Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rating by Kirkus Reviews on June 5, 2012 :

    When new evidence in a 1963 murder case leads to a new trial for nanny Cissy Kohler, who’s been serving a life sentence for killing her employer’s wife Pam Westropp, peerlessly curmudgeonly Mid-Yorkshire Chief Supt. Andrew Dalziel drugs D.C.I. Peter Pascoe into the reopened investigation, trying to defend the judgment of Dalziel’s mentor Inspector Walter Tallantire, who made the arrest, against the insinuations of South Thames investigating chief Geoffrey Hiller. The case groans under the eminence of the politicos and royal connections involved and the weight of its staggering complexities–did Sir Ralph Mickledore, who was executed for the murder, pull the trigger at the instigation of Cissy? why did Cissy, who never denied her guilt, suddenly seek parole 13 years after her conviction and just as suddenly abandon it? why is the witness whose long-suppressed testimony abruptly freed Cissy found dead?–but the salt-and-pepper inquiries of Dalziel and Pascoe, especially a flying trip that leads to the tabloid headline “CROCODILE DALZIEL,” are pure pleasure. Not quite the equal of the sterling Bones and Silence (1990), but several lengths ahead of the current competition. Kirkus Reviews

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rating by Angel Soto on Reviewing the Evidence on June 5, 2012 :

    Yorkshire Superintendent Andy Dalziel and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe are two of the longest-running characters in British police procedurals out there today. After reading one of their numerous volumes in the series, you will see why. Reginald Hill writes a smart and funny story with unforgettable characters and gives the reader something to think about by story’s end.
    In this installment, former American nanny Cissy Kohler has been granted parole from the British prison system after new evidence uncovered by her cousin, television journalist Jay Waggs, shows mishandling of the thirty-year-old case. Ms. Kohler was convicted of killing a child in her care and being an instigating factor in the death of her employer’s wife. While in prison she was also convicted for the murder of Daphne Bush, a corrections officer inside the prison. Not everyone is happy with her release, not even Andrew Dalziel, who was part of the original investigation all those years ago. The new evidence points at the incompetence of the Commanding Officer at the Scene, Chief Superintendent Walter Tallantire. Dalziel will not let anyone besmirch the name of his dead friend and will do his own unofficial investigation of the case. He will drag a reluctant Peter Pascoe to the case and they will uncover a national scandal. If you have yet to meet these two characters, you are in for a treat. Pascoe’s straight man to Dalziel’s maverick is a joy to read.
    Dalziel is always three steps forwards in every investigation and is always running circles among his bosses. He might look and act like a lug, but inside he is a brilliant and relentless investigator. If he is on the case, it will be solved. Humor is also important in a good book and there is plenty to see in this book. When Andy goes to America to try and interview the nanny, Pascoe sums it up with three words, “God Save America” As soon as Andy gets off the plane his presence will be clearly known.
    In RECALLED TO LIFE, Hill borrows elements from Charles Dickens’s A TALE OF TWO CITIES and uses an infamous case in British history. The thing these detectives uncover may make you think twice of the way you look at things throughout time. This book is not a quick read but it is highly enjoyable. The twist in the book will keep you guessing till the very end. Great mystery writers do not only come from the U.S., Britain has more to share. Reginald Hill is one of the best right now.
    reviewingtheevidence.com Angel Soto

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