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Dialogues of the Dead [Mass Market Paperback]

Reginald Hill
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 11 2003

Normally, there would be nothing sinister about a death by drowning and a motorcycle fatality -- had these tragic occurrences not been predicted before the fact in a pair of macabre "Dialogues" submitted to a Yorkshire short story competition. Yet the local police department is slow to act -- until the arrival of a third Dialogue ... and another corpse. A darkness is settling over a terrorized community, brought on by a genius fiend who hides clues to his horrific acts in complex riddles and brilliant wordplay. Now two seasoned CID investigators, Peter Pascoe and "Fat Andy" Dalziel, are racing against a clock whose every tick signals more blood and outrage, caught in the twisted game of a diabolical killer who is turning their jurisdiction into a slaughterhouse.


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From Publishers Weekly

Known for complex plotting, deep characterization and sly humor, Hill here adds to his string of brilliant psychological thrillers featuring two of Britain's most well-rounded detectives. Supt. Andy Dalziel (aka the Fat Man) is the ultimate ham on wry. He takes no pains to hide his enormous appetites, but it pleases him to hide his sharp mind behind crude behavior and ribald speech. He pretends to misunderstand the erudite conversation of the various intellectuals who inhabit the story and delights in puncturing their pompous pronouncements. When one expert adviser presents what he calls an "interesting" theory, Dalziel responds, "If you're waiting for a bus and a giraffe walks down the street, that's interesting. But it doesn't get you anywhere." Refined, polite, rock-solid Inspector Peter Pascoe is the perfect foil to his outlandish boss. Between them they've found truth in many a maze, but here both play background roles to rookie constable Bowler, inevitably nicknamed Hat. Hill's fans know his fondness for all sorts of wordplay, but he takes it to new level, for a word game is the crux of the mystery. The killer enters a short story competition with a piece, written in the form of a one-sided dialogue, that describes a murder and dares the police to untangle the clues planted therein. When they fail, another story submission arrives, describing a second murder. Five more people die before Pascoe's flash of insight illuminates the proper path. One final twist at the very end will take readers' breath away. (Jan. 2)Edgar, Diamond Dagger and Gold Dagger.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

People are dying in Mid-Yorkshire, UK, in what appear to be accidents: one man drowns in a shallow stream, while a young motorcyclist crashes into a tree. While wading through piles of stories that have been submitted for a fiction contest, the county library's reference librarian, Dick Dee, and his assistant, Rye Pomona, come across two stories titled "Dialogues" that give details of those deaths. When they realize that the stories were submitted before accounts of the deaths appeared in the local paper, Dick and Rye consult the area's newest law enforcement agent, handsome young detective Ethelbert "Hat" Bowler, who has been frequenting the library in the hopes of getting to know the beautiful Rye. He and his bosses, the irreverent, cantankerous Andy "Fat Man" Dalziel and the elegant Peter Pascoe, must analyze the cryptic "Dialogues" to find the killer they dub "The Wordman." This latest in Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe series is filled with clever wordplay; complex, articulate suspects; and an intricate, suspenseful plot. Recommended for public libraries. Jane la Plante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Great Book Feb. 28 2003
Format:Hardcover
Mysteries are mysteries except when written by Hill. His novels are wonderfully written works of fiction that use the murder mystery genre merely as the tread. It is the "getting there" that he masters so well.
It was great to see the characters from his previous book, 'Death's Jest-Book' show up again in this novel - part two of the story... but 'Death's Jest-Book' is the one to own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, powerful crime fiction July 10 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Words like unique, creative, compelling, imaginative, althought highly relevant, do not do justice to this masterpiece. Hill is a master stylist, certainly one of the two or three best crime WRITERS (others: Cook, Bill James, Mike Connelly (several of his novels). And apart from the crime aspect of his novels he has something provocative to say about the human condition (e.g. Pictures, Beulah Hill). The framework of this novel, however, surpasses anything else he has written. And what he puts in the frame is a word painting of such depth, ambiguity, ingenuity that it invades the careful reader, paradoxically both subtly and also like a hammer coming down on a recalcitrant human nail. The plot starts as seeming fantasy, but gradually drapes itself in profound reality. This novel introduces a news young "copper" who nicely contrasts with Dalziel and Pascoe. Several other non-cop characters are developed with panache, but at all times come across as richly drawn, realistic characters. The ending is riveting and will make you want to go back and reread the novel, or at least large sections. This book rivals The Four Last Things as the best suspense novel I've read (over 500 novels) and surpasses the powerful Breakheart Hill and Connelly's marvelous Void Moon. I highly recommend this novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hill always takes time to write wrongs! March 4 2002
Format:Hardcover
Reginald Hill can be quite clever at times; he is usually quite good at times, and in his latest, he's both. Hill has long held a fascination with words and word play and this one tops them all.
It's not Plato's Dialogues and it's not Shakespeare--both had a way with words, to be sure, but Hill's "Dialogues" pursues a different spin from other police procedurals and he actually seems to want the alert reader to get involved, the boorish, crude Dalziel aside!
It's not so "literary" or "cerebral" that the words get in the way, but when the Wordman starts wreaking havoc (in the form of murder and meyhem), this erstwhile duo of D&P go to work. Hill keeps up with his "dips" into the psyches of both Dalziel and Pascoe and that helps keep this exciting series running.
There are no surprises with this author's talent and ability--he's one of the tops around. (He's not above throwing in a different spin for an ending, however, as he's done, say, with "Pictures of Perfection.")
This episode, however, will keep you in its grasp long after the final word is read! It may not be his best and it's certainly not my favorite ("Child's Play" and "Exit Lines" are my two favorites--I haven't been inclined to think about which is his best--readers oftentimes get the two mixed up!), but it's a Hill worth struggle for!....
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3.0 out of 5 stars Too Clever For Its Own Good March 4 2002
Format:Hardcover
Normally I love each of the books in the Dalziel and Pascoe series. They usually have everything you could want in a good mystery - interesting main characters who grow throughout each novel, a suprising and logical conclusion to the mystery itself and a gripping story to tide you over along the way. Unfortunately I'd have to say this is the weakest entry in a very deep series. Dialogues of the Dead ends up abandoning the hallmarks that have made previous stories stong in favor of a conceit, i.e. the murderer is a word game fanatic. The reader is then challenged, as are Dalziel, Pascoe, etc., to sift through the clues the author has provided and try to discover the identity of the murderer.
Sounds good right? I thought so to until I picked it up and started reading. Maybe it would have come off better if I hadn't already guessed who the murderer was just from reading the synposis of the book! (And I make no claim to being particularly good at puzzles so if I could solve it...) Who needs to plow through 300+ pages to discover something they already know? Besides the fact the murderer is easily guessed, the other characters that Hill tries to trick you with are too obvious to be credible. The ending was a cop out as far as I was concerned, leaving the characters in the dark but allowing the reader to know the true identity of the murderer. I also thought that the motivations of the murderer didn't seem to really make sense given their portrayal in the book.
A good idea badly executed. Skip this installment and wait for Death's Jest Book, the next (and one can hope) better installment.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Word mavens rejoice March 3 2002
Format:Hardcover
A new Dalziel and Pascoe novel is always a cause for celebration but "Dialogues of the Dead" is a special treat for puzzle and word-game lovers. Hill's books are celebrated for sly and clever wordplay but this novel takes it further, making a word-puzzle central to the plot.
Two accidental deaths are proved murder by "Dialogues" submitted to a local Yorkshire literary contest. The pieces contain clues, but the local police, including fat, crude, razor-sharp Supt. Andy Dalziel, and the refined and dependable Inspector Peter Pascoe, as well as several academic consultants, are baffled. Meanwhile young constable "Hat" Bowler begins to romance the attractive librarian Rye Pomona while finding numerous suspects among the sniping literati, except for one problem - they keep getting murdered.
Word mavens might follow clues to the solution, but Hill leaves the key hidden until the end. Intricately constructed, with well-drawn characters and diabolical murder scenes, this novel will dazzle puzzle fans. Those less in the know, like myself, may feel many of the sophisticated clues flying right over their heads.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
I bought this book for Christmas for my husband as we are both fans of British mysteries. How we missed this author in all our years of reading authors likes Peter Robinson, Ian... Read more
Published on May 7 2009 by P.A.W
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and gripping
This is one of the best mysteries I've read recently, as a mystery and also as masterful piece of fiction writing. Read more
Published on Sept. 17 2002 by "fengshuistephanie"
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare pleasure
I will not give a summary of the plot or teh characters--otehrs have done it, besides it is hard to do that without giving spoilers. Read more
Published on May 20 2002 by Emilia Palaveeva
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for style, 3 stars for plot
As noted by all reviews of the book, the word play in _Dialogues of the Dead_ is witty and tremendously fun to read. Read more
Published on May 7 2002 by frumiousb
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Hill's best books.
This one takes you on a ride that you won't soon forget. The characters are well developed, especially if you've read his other books and there is a new guy thrown into the mix who... Read more
Published on April 17 2002 by Leland R. Somers
4.0 out of 5 stars Dialogues
Enjoyed the book and the wonderful word puzzles. And, yes, suspected who 'did it' fairly early on. Read more
Published on April 1 2002 by A. Correia
3.0 out of 5 stars Without the ending it's one of the best thrillers I've read
With it, you feel very let down. However, as this is the latest Dalziel and Pascoe novel, the next one in the series may make this ending better. Read more
Published on March 17 2002 by Richard Laven
5.0 out of 5 stars Great addition to a great series
The amazing thing about Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe books is that they're all the same (police procedural, recurring characters) and yet all different. Read more
Published on March 7 2002
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