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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
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 Intelligent and gripping Sept. 17 2002
This is one of the best mysteries I've read recently, as a mystery and also as masterful piece of fiction writing. Hill is a genious of characterization, and the plot is both clever and unsettling. I could carp about the ending, which will surprise (and may dismay) you, but I have to admit it has really stuck with me and was not an easy, conventional solution.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow May 7 2009
By P.A.W
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
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 Rankin and Colin Dexter I have no idea, because Hill is an absolute pleasure. His plots flow smoothly but it is the characters of Dalziel and Pascoe that he has developed over some 30 years of writing that are the real gems. I have to admit after reading this novel I went back to his first "A Clubbable Woman" and read them through by publication date and am really sad that I have now read them all and will have to wait for the next one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, powerful crime fiction July 10 2003
By A Customer
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 Rare pleasure May 20 2002
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. What impressed me in this book (my first Reginald Hill mystery) was the following:
I rarely find mysteries, in which unexpected plot twists do not insult readers' intelligence. In most cases, the author sacrifices logic and consequential reasoning for a quick (and often disappointing) thrill. In Dialogues of the Dead Reginald Hill manages to combine both and this makes the novel definitely worth reading. Intelligent and engrossing, his novels remind me of Ruth Rendell's, only more itneresting because Rendell's books are often told from the perspective of the criminal leaving little surprise for the reader.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for style, 3 stars for plot May 7 2002
As noted by all reviews of the book, the word play in _Dialogues of the Dead_ is witty and tremendously fun to read. The book centers around a kind of onion made out of games-- there are layers and layers and layers of words and rules and logical puzzles. Think of it as a kind of homage to Lewis Carroll.
This said, I wish the plot had been as strong. I guessed the baddie very early on, and was unhappy with the ending, which felt gimmicky and out of place for a Dalziel and Pascoe book. Not my favorite Hill, although with a little better villain, perhaps it would have been.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Hill's best books. April 17 2002
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 adds some youthful interest.
I think that Reginald Hill is one of the writers today whose novels are written with a wonderful attention to the nuance of the English language at its finest contemporary usage. When I started reading Mr. Hill, I had to go out and buy British English Dictionary - some of the words he uses you will not find in a dictionary of standard American usage.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dialogues April 2 2002
Enjoyed the book and the wonderful word puzzles. And, yes, suspected who 'did it' fairly early on. Didn't feel that there was enough of D & P but maybe he will bring them back in to full force in the next one. Always get a kick out of Mr. Hill's idea of an independent woman and when I read his heroines in action, they always remind me of a young 'Mrs. Boooookay' of "Keeping Up Appearances". But then maybe that is his idea of the perfect woman, who knows. Am just not sure the ending wasn't a bit of a cop out. Just didn't feel right in this type of book genre. Looking forward to his next book.
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