Thursday, March 1, 2012

A CLUBBABLE WOMAN by Reginald Hill


          “Sergeant,” he said quietly, “is there anything we’ve left undone which we ought to have done”
          “I don’t think so, Sir.”
          “Right. Then somewhere in the area we are covering or have covered lies the clue.”
          “The clue?”
          “There’s always a clue, boy. Don’t you read the Sunday papers?”

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Reginald Hill’s A Clubbable Woman is the first in a memorable series.

Yorkshire Police Superintendent Fat Andy Dalziel and his Sergeant, Peter Pascoe, investigate Mary Connon’s murder. Someone killed her at home. The killer could have been a disenchanted lover.

Mary was a clubbable woman. She was one of many female hangers-on at the club. She ended up marrying the former star of the team. After that, she did not attend the club, and she tried to get her husband to quit going.

Mary’s murder leads Dalziel and Pascoe to probe the liaisons, sexual and otherwise, in the rugby club. It also leads them to investigate the neighbors and to delve into the histories of the families involved.

Other seemingly-unrelated events in this Christmas-time story work together to help the two men solve the murder.

Most reviews of this book say it is a good beginning. They say it is not the best book in the series. I have a different take. I think this book is a classic example of how to write an interesting one-murder police procedural.

Many modern books use murders to advance the plot. If you come to a stopping place, just dream up another murder (or an act of arson or an eighty-car pileup on the freeway). Reginald Hill is a better writer than that.

Hill describes human relationships in a compelling way. 

His later books might more clearly show this, but this book shows it too.

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