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Reginald Hill

Sixty seconds with Reginald Hill...

Reginald Hill was a prolific author. He is best-known for his Dalziel and Pascoe series, which has been dramatised for TV. He also wrote a series featuring Luton PI Joe Sixsmith as well as a number of standalones and thrillers under several pseudonyms. Hill died in 2012 after suffering a brain tumour

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Hill: Superannuated Viking outside, wide-eyed adolescent inside.

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Hill: Charles Trenet singing La Mer

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Hill: A writer. Really!

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Steven Axelrod

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December 15 2018

Well, here it is, the middle of December and we come to our final issue for the year. It's not really a particularly seasonal one - aside from Rik Shepherd's review of the British Library's Classic Crime release, the collection edited by Martin Edwards called THE CHRISTMAS CARD CRIME AND OTHER STORIES, most of what we covered this time would be suitable reading any time of the year. And that's fine. You can have too much Christmas crime just as you can have too much Little Drummer Boy, though maybe not quite as quickly.

We start off with two historically-oriented novels, one which should make us very happy that we didn't live in Scotland in 1847, while the other will perhaps cast some light on a current issue. THE WAY OF ALL FLESH is by Ambrose Parry, the pseudonym adopted by the husband and wife writing team of Chris Brookmyre and Dr Marisa Haetzman. More history than mystery, and set in a far from genteel Edinburgh, it provides a engrossing picture of the development of one vital medical practice, the use of anaesthetics, especially in childbirth. The other, which Jim Napier says is clearly one of the finest reads of the year, is THOUGH THE HEAVENS FALL, by Anne Emery, set in Belfast just as the peace process that would put an end to much of the violence of the Troubles was getting underway.

Another book to try to grapple with current events is THE FERAL DETECTIVE, by Jonathan Lethem. While I thought it had some serious flaws, it still was a fascinating attempt to express the shock and anger provoked by the election of Donald Trump. THE BIG EMPTY, by Stan Jones and Patricia Watts, takes place in Alaska and deals sensitively with the concerns of Native Inupiat culture. Barbara Fister enjoyed it.

Steven F. Havill's 23rd Posada County story LIES COME EASY, does have a bit of a Christmas setting, but it focusses more on the personalities and relationships of the inhabitants of its small New Mexico community. Anne Corey found it an engrossing read.

Opinions vary on the wisdom of continuing a popular author's work after he or she has unavoidably left the scene, but Ruth Castleberry was very pleased that Mike Lupica has resurrected Robert B. Parker's Sunny Randall with BLOOD FEUD.

British domestic suspense continues alive and well in Lisa Jewell's WATCHING YOU, which Keshena Hanson tells is suspenseful and satisfying. Keshena also was impressed with NOT OF THIS FOLD, by Mette Ivie Harrison, despite the fact that she was coming late to the series and unfamiliar with its Mormon content.

Animals, both dogs and horses, also make their appearance this time, but the dogs are not fetching house pets but serious working animals, while the horses are horses. The pooch in Susan Furlong's FRACTURED TRUTH is a Human Remains Detection dog, whose handler is ex-Marine Brynn Callahan, a Traveller. Though PJ Coldren is rapidly tiring of police suffering from PTSD and substance abuse issues, she still found this a very compelling book. The dog in Sara Driscoll's third K9-FBI series, STORM RISING, specializes in trying to find the living and this time he and his handler are looking for survivors of a massive hurricane. Diana Borse applauds the fast pace, strong plot, and effective writing of a series that she sees developing very nicely. I do believe that the amateur detective of Lisa Preston's THE CLINCHER must be unique - she's an itinerant female farrier (and for you city folk, that's someone who shoes horses). PJ Coldren confesses she knows next to nothing about horses, but she didn't have to to enjoy this book.

This week's "Sixty Seconds With..." feature is a bit of a departure. We began running this about ten years ago and there are any number of interesting contributions that have long since been forgotten. I'd like to bring some of them back occasionally, and this time we begin with a writer who is a personal favourite of mine, Reginald Hill, who sadly passed away some years ago and far too soon.

Our friends at CRIMEREVIEW are continuing to survey the UK crime fiction scene and you should drop by to see what they are saying about it.

And so it's (almost) Christmas and then December 31st and the prospect of a whole new year ahead of us. We won't be back till the middle of January and hope to see you then. In the meantime, we wish you a very happy holiday, whatever one you celebrate or none at all.

Please drop us a line if you feel the urge.



P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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