Singing the Sadness
Reginald Hill  
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Purchased On:2006-03-19
Date Added:2006-03-19
Summary: There is an army of contenders for the title Queen of Crime, but many would consider the finest male practitioner of the genre to be the superlative Reginald Hill. His novels are crammed with atmospheric detail, ingenious plotting, and some of the sharpest characterisation in English writing--be that literary or crime novel. His detectives, Dalziel and Pascoe, have become among the best-loved fixtures of the current crime scene. And Singing the Sadnessis possibly his most beguiling entertainment yet--even though it's not a Dalziel and Pascoe book.
Recently, Hill has created a new character, Joe Sixsmith. Born in a short story, Hill so much enjoyed writing about Joe that he decided to give his redundant lathe-operator-turned-private-eye his own series of novels. As in the earlier Sixsmith books, Blood Sympathy, Born Guiltyand Killing the Lawyers, Sixsmith proves to be a wonderfully laconic and winning personality: always up against it in both his personal and professional life, his half-haphazard, half-inspired piercing of some pretty sinister mysteries provides a very good time for the reader.
In Singing the Sadness, Joe is going west - but only as far as Wales, where his local choir has been invited to compete in the Llanffugiol Choral Festival. Joe has agreed to accompany them--but soon discovers that no one seems to have heard of Llanffugiol. And instead of a welcome in the hillside, all that he finds is a burning house, with a mysterious woman trapped inside. Soon, Joe is dealing with a strange and suspicious group of characters: a drug-dealing student, a supercilious headmaster and a deeply antagonistic policeman. And that's not to mention the disaffected locals who have decided to sabotage the Festival, with the aid of the caretaker's daughter who seems prepared to go to some remarkable lengths to take care of Joe. Amidst all the chaos, Joe finds himself (over the space of a single weekend) uncovering crimes that have been buried for years. And soon, as often before, his own life is on the line.
Written with all the sharp-edged humour and rich humanity that distinguishes his best work, this new development in Hill's much-acclaimed body of work bids fair to gain just as devoted a following as the Dalziel and Pascoe books, with Hill's prose style as keen as ever: "She still regarded Joe's post-lathe career in private investigation as a symptom of stress-induced brain fever which marriage to a good woman, plus regular attendance at chapel and the job centre would soon cure. She'd reacted to the news that Joe had bought a mobile phone like a Sally Army captain catching a reformed drunk coming out of an off-licence with a brown paper parcel". --Barry Forshaw