Top mysteries challenge review: Deadheads by Reginald Hill

Year of publication: 1983
Series and no.: Dalziel and Pascoe, #7
Genre: Police procedural
Type of mystery: Murder (maybe)
Type of investigator: Police
Setting & time: Yorkshire, northern England; contemporary


When the managing director of a local company tells Dalziel that he suspects one of his underlings at the company of murder, he thinks there is little in it, but sets Pascoe on the case nonetheless before leaving for a seminar in London. Pascoe starts sniffing around and finds an unusual number of deaths that have come in very handy for the subject of the investigation. Meanwhile, a new addition to the police force is proving to have good policeman instincts, one of the detectives is having a personal crisis, Pascoe's wife has struck up a friendship with the suspect's wife, and Dalziel has renewed his acquaintance with the suspect's mother.

Hill is very funny but never to the detriment of the narrative, and his style is very readable and rather literary. The characters are great, especially Dalziel, who is full of surprises (but I already knew that, having been a big fan of the TV series). The plotting in this novel is impeccable and not at all formulaic. There are surprises – sometimes you keep waiting for a twist that never comes, and sometimes one comes out of nowhere, and the ending, well, the less said about that, the better. 4+ stars.

Books left in challenge: 83

Place on the list(s): CWA 71
Awards and nominations: Finalist for the 1983 Gold Dagger Award.

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