Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A PINCH OF SNUFF by Reginald Hill

It seems like it has been forever since I’ve read about Fat Andy and the gang.

Reginald Hill’s 1978 A Pinch of Snuff is the fifth book in the series.

Someone kills the owner of the Calliope Kinema Club, a club-theater which shows legal pornographic films.

Detective Peter Pascoe’s dentist tells Pascoe he thinks he has seen an actual killing in one film. When the club owner is murdered and the film destroyed, the dentist is a logical suspect.

Pascoe’s superior Fat Andy Dalziel is just Fat Andy. He leads Pascoe on several wild goose chases. He knows more about what’s happening than Pascoe does. He manipulates Pascoe and everyone else in the story to solve the crime. And he does all this with his usual cheeky, boorish behavior.

These stories are what one reviewer calls “classic British” mysteries taken to a new level. There is no character in all the books I’ve read like Fat Andy Dalziel. The stories themselves are complex. There’s no having someone like Hercule Poirot stand around and elucidate the clues. The clues are given and worked out in action.

This story ends with a series of frenetic scenes involving all kinds of characters.

Different authors have different gifts. Some are especially good at point of view. (I think of Megan Abbott.) Some are especially good at setting. (Colin Cotterill's late 1970's Laos comes to mind.) Reginald Hill creates characters like none I’ve ever known. And they are always true to themselves.

I liked the early books the best. (This is one of them.) It was hard for me to watch these folks get old. But I’ve never picked up a book about Fat Andy Dalziel and those around him without being well-rewarded. 

If you haven’t read it, you might want to try Reginald Hill’s A Pinch of Snuff.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Love all the RH books but this is one of the best.

Joe Barone said...

I was glad to have read it again.

Anonymous said...

My library had 36 listings, but not the book you reviewed. So I requested "Deadheads."
Off topic, but have you read R D Wingfield's Frost books? I enjoyed them.
Again, thanks for the fine review and new-to-me author.

Joe Barone said...

I hope you enjoy Deadheads. And to answer your question: No I have not read the Wingfield books. I will look them up.

Joe Barone said...

I looked up the Frost books. They sounded interesting. I've put one on my list to order the next time I make a book order from B&N. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I hope you enjoy the Frost book as much as I enjoyed Deadheads which I finished last night. Will look for more of his older books. (A new-to-me-author, yay!)

Joe Barone said...

To me the blessing of mystery novel blogging is that I learn about new books and new authors. I'm glad I could return the favor.