25 September 2007

Death Comes for the Fat Man, by Reginald Hill

Harper Collins New York 2007. 404 pages.

This is my first Reginald Hill, I doubt it will be my last. What a great mystery and crime novel, and good to the last words on the last page! This story is masterfully done, tightly raveled so that it unravels throughout every inch of the book.

The novel begins with a horrendous explosion where Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel is seriously injured. He is not expected to live, but he is taken to a hospital and put on life support. This is how we are introduced to one of the most important characters in the book who, although completely out of the picture, affects everything and everybody in the story from beginning to end.

We are left with Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe, his close friend and colleague, who is also injured in the explosion although not quite as seriously. Pascoe spends the rest of the book getting to the bottom of the cause of the explosion and what is really going on in Manchester. The mystery involves a range of strange characters, including British secret counter-terrorism agents, self-styled "Templar" vigilantes (see also The Da Vinci Code and The Templar Legacy though I recommend neither one, they both reference this legendary group of Crusade-era knights), quirky Yorkshire cops, a paralyzed veteran of the war in Iraq, a talent agent named Ffion, and much and many more.

The plot is intricate, we are skillfully hoodwinked, this is a very satisfying read with nary a wasted page.

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