There’s a new club in town, one that shows “blue movies” to a select clientele. All a bit of harmless fun, really, but when Detective Sergeant Peter Pascoe’s dentist suggests that one such film might have included some real violence to a woman, Pascoe feels obliged to follow through; before he can do too much, however, the dentist is accused of statutory rape, the owner of the club is killed and the club itself is wrecked. Somehow all these threads are linked, and Pascoe has to try to unravel them, without much support from Detective Superintendent Dalziel…. The story here is quite intricate and well constructed, with lots of red herrings and other diversions along the way. It was first published in 1984, though, and it’s quite shocking to modern readers to encounter the way domestic violence was treated in those days: basically a “shrug and forget it” from the police, and the community in general. Sensitive readers might be disconcerted, so only a mild recommendation from me.
on January 26, 2003
Detective Inspector Peter Pascoe's dentist, who is used to seeing broken jaws and broken teeth, tells Pascoe that a scene in an X-rated film where a women is beaten is real, not staged. This leads Peter and his wife Ellie to check out the Calliope Kinema Club, a trendy venue for soft-core porn in an otherwise proper and well-to-do neighborhood.
Sergeant Wield already has the place under surveillance, due to neighborhood complaints and scandalized locals, but Wield and Pascoe's Boss Superintendant Dalziel is skeptical that anyone is guilty of anything more than voyeurism until an indisputable murder turns up the heat.
The books are labeled the Dalziel and Pascoe books, but I always think of them as the Peter Pascoe / Ellie Pascoe / Edgar Wield / Andy Dalziel books, and all four characters get to shine in this one. Not as innovative as most of the later books in the series, but still an excellent police procedural, and well as showing much of the sly humor and characterization that makes Hill's books such a delight.
on July 16, 1999
My copy of A Pinch of Snuff is a 21st printing; this book must be really popular. Reginald Hill's long-running Dalziel/Pasco series never fails to deliver a fine story. Detective Inspector Dalziel allows Detective Sergeant Peter Pasco to look into a report that the beating of an actress in a porn film appears to have been the real thing. Another case's investigation begins to overlap this one, and through step-by-step detective work, the story unfolds.
I enjoyed the story; it's hard to find a better British police procedural than those of Reginald Hill. I don't normally like or read British police procedurals, but Hill's in a class by himself. Read this one and whatever you do, don't miss his later books in this series. On Beulah Height, for instance, is a true masterpiece.