Pictures of Perfection
by Reginald Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a rather delightfully odd installment in the Dalziel and Pascoe series. I wouldn't recommend it as anyone's first exposure to the series, for the simple reason that it's not at all representative of what the series is normally like, but if you've read a few of the more straightforward police procedurals in the series, and want to see Hill do something different, pick this up.
This book is clearly inspired by Jane Austen. Quotations from Austen's works precede each chapter, and there is the requisite country squire with the estate entailed on the male line, and more marriage intrigues than you can shake a stick at. While it uses these elements from Austen to good plot effect, the flavor of Hill's 1980s Yorkshire is sufficiently different from Austen's milieu that it never feels like an Austen pastiche. This is not Pride and Prejudice and Policemen
One of the things this book does particularly well is to subvert a trope of mystery novels: the seemingly idyllic rural village which turns out to have horrible violence and depravity lurking below the surface. Without getting into spoilers, let's just say that there's plenty of crime and plenty of mystery, and it all turns out a bit more innocent than the reader is initially led to believe. It's a testament to Hill's skill as a writer that I was delighted by this rather than finding it anti-climactic. I still haven't quite figured out how he did it.
Dalziel and Pascoe rather take a back seat in this one - it's mostly Sergeant Weild's story, which is a big bonus for Weild fans. And really, is anyone not a Weild fan?View all my reviews