Recalled to Life

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel of the Mid-Yorkshire Criminal Investigation Detachment is a man with a mission. Some thirty years ago, when he was an apprentice detective, his friend and mentor, Walter Tallantire, arrested Sir Ralph Mickledore for the murder of his mistress. Sir Ralph was assisted, or so the court believed, by Cissy Kohler. Kohler and Sir Ralph were convicted, and he went to the gallows — the last murderer so honored before Britain renounced its use. Kohler was sentenced to a lengthy term in prison, but doubt continued to exist as to her guilt. Suddenly, Kohler is released from prison, and it begins to look as though Wally Tallantire not only arrested the wrong man but also did so knowingly.

Andy Dalziel is not about to see his old comrade’s memory dragged through the mud. Unfortunately, the powers that be are not inclined to allow Dalziel to pursue his quest officially. In fact, it appears that his superiors are quite content with dumping poor Wally in the stew. In consequence, Dalziel enlists the help of his able but troubled subordinate, Peter Pascoe. While Pascoe skirts the edge of insubordination and professional disgrace, Dalziel flies off to the United States to pursue ancient clues on his own time.

RECALLED TO LIFE is Dalziel and Pascoe’s second appearance, and it is to be hoped there will be many more such adventures. Reginald Hill weaves a complicated literary tapestry which intermixes the bold and the subtle in a manner most pleasing. The reader will be bedazzled and confused throughout and may find it necessary to read some passages again just to be sure. The only real irritant in this exceptional work, however, is Hill’s penchant for rendering regional dialects into print, a practice not to everyone’s taste. Some of the reader’s confusion may stem from trying to interpret Dalziel’s dialogue.