My first read of a Reginal Hill and therefore my debut Dalziel and Pascoe. Having not seen any of the TV series, I arrived with no baggage and few expectations other than the hope I might find a little holiday escapism via a police procedural.
A Killing Kindness (US) was a pleasant surprise. It follows the investigation into an ongoing series of murders that have in common the final resting poses of the victims and follow-up quotes from Shakespeare that suggest there’s an element of compassion in the killings in a twisted kind of way.
Like another recent read of mine, Ed McBain’s Ghosts, there is a supernatural element. In this case it comes in the form of a medium of Romany heritage with the ability to see beyond the concrete. Just as with Ghosts I was surprised at how much this aspect enhanced my engagement and how this element was successfully used to add tantalising ingredients to the work of the detectives.
The plot of this one is nicely put together and all the pieces fight tightly. The whodunit issue drives the story forwards well, but it was the characterisation that I enjoyed most about the book. On the surface (and possibly beneath) Dalziel is a brute who derives pleasure from being obtuse, unpleasant and behind the times. Pascoe juggles the case with his domestic life and the imminent arrival of his first child. He provides an excellent filter through which we observe the case and one that allows us to see Dalziel’s warts as well as his hidden qualities. There’s also the extremely ugly Sergeant Weild, a gay officer who is hiding in his closet while doing some brilliant work as he fixates upon finding their killer. Weild’s plight is handled with sensitivity and shines a light on the work place as an environment that can be difficult for anyone who doesn’t quite fit.
The red herrings work well, the bit players are strong and distinctive, the desire to find justice is maintained, its pace is spot on and there are elements of surprise in the wrapping up of the piece that left me satisfied.
All in all, I found the holiday escapism I was after and quite a lot more.