'Hill is an instinctive and complete novelist who is blessed with a spontaneous storytelling gift' Frances Fyfield, Mail on Sunday 'Reginald Hill stands head and shoulders above any other writer of homebred crime fiction' Observer 'Their double act [Dalziel and Pascoe's] is one of the delights of English crime fiction' The Times 'So far out in front that he need not bother looking over his shoulder' Sunday Telegraph
Reginald Hill's detectives, Dalziel and Pascoe, have become among the best loved fixtures of the current crime scene. But Singing the Sadness may be his most entertaining novel yet - even though it's not a Dalziel and Pascoe book. Recently, Hill has created a new character, Joe Sixsmith. Born in a short story, Hill so much enjoyed writing about Joe that he decided to give his redundant lathe operator-turned-private eye his own series of novels. As in the earlier Sixsmith books, such as Blood Sympathy, Sixsmith proves to be a wonderfully laconic and winning personality: always up against it in both his personal and professional life, his half-haphazard, half-inspired piercing of some pretty sinister mysteries provides a very good time for the reader. In the new book, Joe is going west - but only as far as Wales, where his local choir has been invited to compete in the Llanffugiol Choral Festival. Joe has agreed to accompany them - but soon discovers that no one seems to have heard of Llanffugiol. And instead of a welcome in the hillside, all that he finds is a burning house, with a mysterious woman trapped inside. Soon, Joe is dealing with a strange and suspicious group of characters: a drug-dealing student, a supercilious headmaster and a deeply antagonistic policeman. And that's not to mention the disaffected locals who have decided to sabotage the Festival, along with the caretaker's daughter who seems prepared to go to some remarkable lengths to take care of Joe. Amidst all the chaos, Joe finds himself (over the space of a single weekend) uncovering crimes which have been buried for years. And soon, as often before, his own life is on the line. Written with all the sharp-edged humour and rich humanity that distinguishes his best work, this new development in Hill's much-acclaimed body of work promises to gain just as devoted a following as the Dalziel and Pascoe books, with Hill's prose style as keen as ever. (Kirkus UK)
If only the Boyling Corner Chapel Choir's bus hadn't broken down on its way to the first annual Llanffugiol Choral Festival; if only the road signs in Welsh and the few passersby hadn't been so equally unhelpful; if only they'd arrived ten minutes earlier or later at the site of Copa Cottage - then Luton p.i. Joe Sixsmith would be singing along with his mates instead of lying in Caerlindys Hospital nursing his larynx and some other tender bits, acclaimed as a hero for running into the burning cottage and rescuing a woman whose condition is still critical. And since Joe's already rescued her, what's more natural that being hired to identify her - first by London TV producer Fran Haggard, who owns the cottage; then by Fran's actress wife Franny, who wonders if the burn victim was Fran's bit on the side; and finally by Owain Lewis, the well-connected local schoolmaster's teenaged son, whose motives are too private to share with a private eye but whose cash looks just as good as that of his elders. There'll be much, much more, of course - rumors of a homosexual seduction that led to an innocent boy's dismissal from the school long ago, the collapse of the festival stage at an inopportune moment, Joe's tango with a pair of salt-and-coppers, and his manly refusal of an eager teenager's advances - before a final sad twist ties it all together. A charming postcard pendant to Joe's three more sociologically weighty adventures back home in Luton (Killing the Lawyers, 1997, etc.). (Kirkus Reviews)
About the Author
Reginald Hill was brought up in Cumbria, and has returned there after many years in Yorkshire. With his first crime novel, A Clubbable Woman, he was hailed as 'the crime novel's best hope' and twenty years on he has more than fulfilled that promise.