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39-Mar-Apr-2009
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A Dalziel and Pascoe Mystery

A-The Price of Butchers MeatAcclaimed English crime writer Reginald Hill, often compared to P. D. James, Ruth Rendell, and Elizabeth George, has received several awards, including the prestigious Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement. In The Price of Butcher’s Meat, a clever take on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon, Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe again join forces to catch a killer.

The Story: Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel (the Fat Man) is recuperating from injuries sustained in Death Comes for the Fat Man (2007) at the Avalon Clinic, a convalescent home in Sandytown, "Home of the Healthy Holiday," on the Yorkshire coast. Chafing under the clinic’s restrictions, he sneaks out for a pint at the local pub and meets some of Sandytown’s most peculiar denizens, all of them trying to exploit the quaint seaside town in their own ways. When wealthy, petulant Lady Daphne Denham turns up dead on a hog spit at a pork roast, DCI Peter Pascoe conducts the official investigation. But as the body count starts to rise, Dalziel makes some inquiries of his own.
Harper. 528 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0061451932

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4.5 of 5 Stars
"[O]ne of the best mysteries of the year. … Treat yourself—the pages move as fast as a pint in Andy’s hands." Michele Ross

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Hill is a terrific writer who has won just about every award in the genre. … Hill’s title is from Austen’s novel, his setting is called Sandytown, and his narrative structure, like Austen’s, cleverly plays with the epistolary form." Carole E. Barrowman

Minneapolis Star-Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"Like previous Dalziel-Pascoe novels, The Price of Butcher’s Meat offers an intellectually satisfying mystery, deep character studies and witty social commentary clothed in elegant, literate prose. Hill’s mastery of narrative voice creates vitality out of devices that in lesser hands could be disastrous." Patricia Hagen

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"Great stuff from one of the greats, and a true must for fans of British crime." Jane Dickinson

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Reginald Hill provides his usual deeply satisfying whodunit, but The Price of Butcher’s Meat’s structure—which intersperses e-mail messages with regular chapters—is a little confusing at first. Fans of the Fat Man are in for a treat, but newcomers should start with an earlier book, such as A Clubbable Woman." Tina Jordan

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Deploying a leisurely-paced epistolary style and a busy plot stuffed with dodgy inheritances, romantic mismatches and bountiful afternoon teas, Hill pulls off the clever literary jest of projecting Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon into modern times. But stretched out for more than 500 pages, the whimsy wears thin, reminding us that 19th-century novelists never had to contend with the inelegant stuttering of e-mail prose." Marilyn Stasio

Critical Summary

The 23rd installment in the Dalziel-Pascoe series is classic Reginald Hill with its clever, suspenseful plot, droll social commentary, and graceful prose. Hill brings the standard epistolary novel squarely into the 21st century as he intersperses a conventional third-person narrative with e-mails and stream-of-consciousness observations from a digital voice recorder. Though Entertainment Weekly found this structure confusing at first and the New York Times Book Review considered these devices somewhat clumsy, others, such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, remarked that the techniques work "brilliantly." Hill’s characters—part Jane Austen and part Agatha Christie—and frequent literary allusions exasperated some critics but charmed others. All agreed that Hill fans will be delighted, though other readers may want to start at the beginning of the series.

First in the Series

A Clubbable Woman (1970): In the first installment of the award-winning Dalziel-Pascoe series, suspicion falls on a cuckolded husband when his wife is found murdered in their living room.