The Price of Butcher's Meat Mass Market Paperback – 2009
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If you're familiar with Andy Dalziel, you can just imagine his mood when he is sent to the hospital in Sandytown ("Home of the Healthy Holiday!") to recuperate from the injuries he received in his last adventure. He's so bored and frustrated that he actually welcomes the murder of a prominent local woman as a chance to bust out of his enforced confinement. The mystery is excellent, and the suspects are a colorful group of oddballs. But my favorite part of this book is Andy's relationship with Charlie, the clever girl who helps him solve the case. THE PRICE OF BUTCHER'S MEAT is sheer pleasure, start to finish. Highly Recommended.
As he records his feelings per his therapist, Dalziel quickly realizes three families own the small resort town under the auspices of the Sandytown Development Consortium. The Parkers, Denhams and Hollises have ambitious plans for Sandytown until Lady Denham dies mysteriously. Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe leads the investigation in which Dalziel wants in if nothing else at least as a consultant; on the other hand Pascoe desperately wants to keep his sick leave pal "Fat Andy" out so he can lead the show.
This is a refreshing excellent follow-up to DEATH COMES FOR THE FAT MAN. The structure is a radical departure from the long running Dalziel-Pascoe police procedurals as it is told in six interrelated but unique volumes that make the tale more than a whodunit; the story line is a deep character study allowing insight into Dalziel via his taped observations and email sent by local Charlie Whiffle. With a nod to "Janeites" and homage to Jane Austen and her unfinished novel, Reginald Hill provides a great tale.
Charlotte seems to be a reincarnation of Sam from "The Stranger House". Her telling of the story, and it is a telling versus being played out, becomes tedious, and as soon as I heard (I listened to the book - well as much as I could)and realized character Franny Roote was again to play a part, I was quite irritated and then sad. This character only makes fools of both Pascoe and Dalziel.
I will continue to reread his earlier novels - they are quite wonderful and will test the waters with new ones. I do admire this author very much.
Lady Denham, who has outlived two husbands, taking over the wealth of the first and the title of the second, is found strangled and roasting on a barbeque. Between her rampant sex drive and penchant for subjugating potential heirs, there is no lack of suspects. Two additional deaths follow.
The problem with the novel is its construction. The first part is presented in the form of e-mails by a young psychology student. While observant and providing plenty of information, the pages tend to drone and drag on. These are complemented by Andy dictating his innermost thoughts and observations; also somewhat overdone. When the reader gets past these pages, one can hunker down to a traditional police procedural on a par with the best of the series.
As Yogi said, it ain't over `til it's over. And the reader is never sure that the end is near, even at the final chapter, which is introduced again by a tape recording. The 500-plus pages are a lot to slog though. But reaching the conclusion is well worth the effort. And it is good to have the Fat Man amongst the living again. [In the last entry, he dominated the book by sleeping completely through it.] Recommended.