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Pictures of Perfection: A Dalziel/Pascoe Mystery [Mass Market Paperback]

Reginald Hill
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars another great mystery with twists a-plenty! Jan. 24 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am a bona fide Reginald Hill fan and have read about a fourth of all he's so far written.
Pictures of Perfection is, without a doubt, one of the best ones I've read and it shows the full range and breadth of Mr. Hill's talents. While ostensibly a mystery, there is ample mirth, satire, parody, and guffaws throughout the book. Mr. Hill also has the ability, rare in the field of mystery writers for some reason, to turn a phrase just right and then place it in the mouth of the best character to say that one phrase; as a result, I found myself laughing outright in unexpected moments!
Character development is finely tuned here and, for once, the book allows a fuller sense of Sergeant Wield and for me fills in the piece of how Wield met his partner who is included in later books. In fact, I feel Hill writes as if picturing all this on stage or on the screen. Yes, that's how well timed and placed characters, dialogue, and plot are. (Mr Hill: If you are reading, please release your books to the larger screen! I can't wait to see who's cast as Andy Dalziel!)
Whether this be your first Hill novel or not, you will not be disappointed by this page-turner!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Fun! Aug. 24 1999
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In "Pictures of Perfection" Reginald Hill gives us both the terrific Daziel/Pascoe mystery we've come to expect and something totally unexpected as well.
The village of Enscombe has changed only superficially since the days of Jane Austen whose words just happen to introduce each chapter. One of the residents, Caddy Scudamore, is a talented artist given to painting over much of her crowded canvases. This is done, we are told, not so much to obliterate as to "relegate it to a kind of misty otherworld where it still continued to exert its existence."
Hill, too, offers us one thing - a contemporary mystery - beneath which lie all the sense and sensibilities of Austen. Social dynamics and entailments. Misunderstandings and love matches (at least one of which in its '90s incarnation might take even Jane by surprise!) But most of all, insight and humor and a joyous way with words that can make a reader laugh out loud. Austen could do it and so can Reginald Hill.
He leads us into the story through a scenario that we find all too easy to accept and ushers us out again with a reminder that appearances can be deceiving. Jane would have agreed.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
"It is the Day of Reckoning." Thus begins what is perhaps one of the most effective narrative hooks around. Reginald Hill then precedes in his opening chapter of "Pictures of Perfection" to capture completely the reader's undivided attention in this yet another Dalziel and Pascoe British mystery. However, while irony may be a useful, sometimes even necessary, literary tool, Hill incorporates another device and carries it a step further--he approaches the "theatre of the absurd." While using this mesmerizing first chapter to rivet the reader's attention solidly, longtime--and quite successful--writer Hill cheapens his shots by ultimately relying on another literary device, the red herring! And this red herring is also a very smelly dead horse, to carry the metaphor even further! By the concluding chapter, the reader, at least one hoping for more than just a "high rush" (or catharsis) of satisfaction of discovering that "all's well that ends well," is the victim of a low blow. It seems that Hill simply becomes too involved-- in apparently something else besides the book-- to afford a sensible, and usual, Hill ending. Thus, this reader is left with a feeling of disbelief in one of his favorite authors! In fact, it is almost an embarrassing conclusion! Not that endings can't be simple, of course, but Hill doesn't seem to want to present another of his provocative endings, one that stays with you. This time, he perhaps thinks "simple is best." Granted, the reliable Dalziel and Pascoe are up to form. Who cannot like this duo, and the reliable Sergeant Wield is once again featured, for better or for worse! Hill has no difficulty in keeping the readers' interests as his writing style generally holds true to form. Read more ›
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
*****
This is a Dalziel/Pascoe mystery, with the usual careful plotting and great dialogue. However, this book is above and beyond even Reginald Hill's great usual: there's a bizarre shock in store for the reader. (Who will enjoy it later, very much) It has wickedly funny plotting, some of the most unusual characters, and to my delight an unexpected chance at happiness for poor sweet Sergeant Wield. Wield has suffered through plenty of Dalziel's bossiness and the dismay of "coming out" to his fellow detectives. In this story he meets a man he initially finds very annoying, but as the story develops, we can see the promise of love on the horizon.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
I thought this mystery was wonderful as a kind of "fun" romp with the characters. Hill is showing us he cares very much about them all.
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By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Hill wittily parodies both Jane Austen's *Pride and Prejudice* and the English village mystery in this engaging romp. A nice break from the usually grim tone of the series as a whole, the novel features all the usual suspects (theft? murder? fraud?), then turns them on their heads. But at least several characters find true love where they (and we!) least expect it. Hill does delight in the odd word--"hispid," for example, stumped an entire room of English professors (including this one when she first encountered it!). Bibliophiles will enjoy the references to obscure Victorian novels--not to mention Enscombe's irresistibly acidic antiquarian bookseller, Edwin Digweed, who comes complete with a bookshop to drool over.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Exemplar of the Mystery Genre
The usual elements of the mystery genre are all present in this unique opus that you may well remember for a long time. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2002 by Daniel L Pratt
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, Fun, Fun
Filled with humor, irony, and exquisite dialog! One of the best of Hill's series.
Published on Jan. 30 2001 by Robert Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful!
"Pictures of Perfection" is a delightful fairy tale of a mystery complete with happily-ever-after ending. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2000 by Sheila L. Beaumont
5.0 out of 5 stars Usual excellence from Reginald Hill
The story commences with a terrifying and well-written account of a gunman shooting randomly at people in the village of Enscombe - so much more terrifying because we all know so... Read more
Published on May 20 2000 by Helen
4.0 out of 5 stars Characters and style
Not as good as "Beaulah Heights" but still his characters are wonderful.
Published on Jan. 19 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of wit and illusion.
For those of you who prefer the cozy British mystery, like myself, you will be promptly dismayed, perhaps even repulsed, by the first gruesome chapter. Persevere. Read more
Published on March 29 1998 by "sissylue"
5.0 out of 5 stars the best
Love it love it love it! This is the best Dalziel and Pascoe - and that's saying a lot.
Published on Feb. 3 1998 by thoekel@mail.utexas.edu
5.0 out of 5 stars encompasses the genre
When a book is this pleasurable, this dare I
say it, perfect in every proportion it takes
a writer like Reginald Hill to do the review
justice. Read more
Published on Aug. 2 1997
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