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April 4, 2014

Felonies of the Week: Celebrate All of Reginald Hill!

One of the games I used to enjoy playing with my bookstore customers was “What mystery writer would you most like to bring back from the dead?” Agatha Christie was a perennial favorite, ditto Raymond Chandler. But meaning no disrespect to either, today at least my vote would go to the late and much-lamented Reginald Hill, who wrote a stunning number of books  (more than 24 in the Dalziel-and-Pascoe series alone, plus a clutch of short-story collections, the Joe Sixsmith series, and over a dozen stand-alone novels) and yet, by my calculation, didn’t write nearly enough. Andy Dalziel is one of my all-time favorite characters in the annals of mystery-fiction – fat, sweaty, vulgar, rude, and possessed of more nuanced intelligence and heart-stabbing decency than almost any series protagonist I can name. And I am at least as fond of Hill’s non-series books, particularly the ones that tilt toward espionage. Cheap thrills they may be – the literary equivalent of Doritos – but conspiracy thrillers are my secret guilty pleasure, and Hill’s Who Guards a Prince is perhaps the pleasur-iest of them all, with its twisted Masonic lodge and its knowing wink in the direction of the Kennedy compound.

Hill’s birthday was last week, but in a reminder that the Almighty doesn’t always giveth, Hill died about two years ago, taking with him stories we will never hear and characters we will never meet. Still, it’s always better to concentrate on the half-full glass, so on special this week: ALL the books we are privileged to publish by Reginald Hill. If somehow you have missed making Fat Andy’s acquaintance, jump on the series (completist-types will want to start with #1, A Clubbable Woman, but to my mind the series really finds its voice with #3, Ruling Passion, which came out in 1973). And if you’re a long-time Pascoe-and-Dalziel fan but have stuck there, jump on Prince or the wonderfully understated The Spy’s Wife, with Traitor’s Blood or Death of a Dormouse as a back-up treat. And raise a toast to Mr. Hill. He liked a drink, and if there’s any justice in the afterlife, he’s raising a pint himself.

Once again, this week only, all of Hill’s books are on sale at a 25% discount!

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