In discussing Peter Robinson yesterday, I mentioned that he and I first met at a CWA Northern Chapter meeting. At it was at the inaugural lunch of the Chapter, in Borougbridge, back in 1987, that I first met one of the finest crime writers of the last forty years. Reginald Hill has, since then, been something of an inspiration to me.
I’d read some of Reg’s books before that first meeting, and I enjoyed the way he combined intricate plotting with witty characterisation. He was, and will no doubt remain, best known for his books about Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe, but his other books should definitely not be overlooked. For example, a thriller that originally appeared under the pen-name of Patrick Ruell, The Only Game, is a terrific piece of work that I certainly recommend.
As a writer, he has gone from strength to strength. Bones and Silence was a magnificent piece of work, but arguably he topped it with On Beulah Height. And then, some might say (and I would agree) that Dialogues of the Dead is even better. He is extraordinarily prolific, yet he remains committed to quality of story. His short fiction is superb, and I’ll write about this on another occasion.
Reg and his wife Pat are invariably good company, and I suffered with them as the original Yorkshire TV series of Dalziel and Pascoe, starring the comedians Hale and Pace, proved to be distinctly underwhelming. Happily, the BBC made a much better fist of it, and I had the happy experience of attending the preview at the RSA in London of the very first episode, ‘A Clubbable Woman’.
I’ve been reading Reg’s latest novel over the last couple of weeks, and a review will appear here shortly. The book is called The Woodcutter, and it doesn’t feature Dalziel and Pascoe. But the central character does have some of Fat Andy’s charisma, as well as one or two dark secrets.