Sunday, November 1, 2009

Midnight Fugue

Reginald Hill's Midnight Fugue is an excellent book in an excellent series.

Aside from solving the crime, the major issue is, "Will Superintendent Fat Andy Daiziel be able to be top dog again?"

Coming back off a horrendous injury in a huge explosion, he finds himself left out.  At the beginning of the book, he is befuddled.
Is Andy's reign over, or can he can he get his powers (and authority) back?

"Listen, Andy," said [his deputy] Pascoe seriously, "I can't let you do this.  It's just a matter of minutes . . . "

"Minutes might be all  we've got," said Dalziel.  "And, Pete, what's all this letting business?  There'll likely come a time and place when you can tell me what to do, but it's not here and it's not yet.  I'm off.  You coming or staying?"

The personal issues are wrapped in a good story.  Gina Wolfe, the young fiancĂ©e of a police acquaintance of Dalziel's, asks Dalziel to find out whether her policeman husband, missing now for seven years, is still alive.  Someone has sent her a picture making her believe he could be.

Dalziel asks a young policewoman, Shirley Novello, to cover his back, to make sure someone is not recording Dalziel's and Gina's conversation.  Novello ends up witnessing a murder and being seriously hurt.   Andy had her doing what she was doing off-time and without telling any of his colleagues. 

The investigation comes to involve some powerful people with shady pasts.  

The book ends with everyone converging on the scene of another murder in the making.  

The book closes with justice in the form of a total surprise.  

In other words, for me at least, this was good reading.  

Hill changes points of view, moves from character to character and (slightly) back and forth in time.  That slows down the action.  As I recall, it is typical of these novels.  The action is important, but the people even more so. 

Hill portrays Ellie Pascoe, Peter Pascoe's wife, in an especially convincing way.  She loves her husband but hates that he is a policeman.  She is a wonderful minor character.

This investigation, like all the others, is a team effort.  Dalziel and his associates work together (not always harmoniously) as they have in other books.  Dalziel himself describes the plot:

"And the organist [at the church] were practising his Bach this morning: 'Art of the Fugue'.  My   favourite.  Tha knows what a fugue is?  Bit of a tune that chases itself round and round till it vanishes up its own arsehole."

What more could you want than a book like this?


Paul D. Brazill said...

Yeah, I fancy that. Need to catch up on Mr. hill's more ecent stuff.

Joe Barone said...

I plan to go back and read the two previous ones myself. I always loved these characters, but I got away from them in the last few years.