Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hill Toppers

Following up on yesterday’s posting about the death of British novelist Reginald Hill, we asked his friend, critic-columnist Mike Ripley, to choose his five favorite books from among Hill’s extensive oeuvre. He replied with the following:
Under World (1988): Set in Yorkshire in the aftermath of the infamous miners’ strikes. I’m a Yorkshireman and the son of a miner, so I took this one personally. Reg got it spot-on, and his humane liberalism shines throughout.

A Pinch of Snuff (1978): The book that brought Reg national publicity because of the subject matter (snuff movies). As ingenious as always and in parts wickedly funny.

On Beulah Height (1998): Infuriatingly clever, close on a masterpiece. Even the title is a clue.

Urn Burial (1973): Writing as “Patrick Ruell,” this is Reg in Michael Innes mode: a fantastical story involving archaeology, mad scientists, and his beloved Cumbrian Fells. Written with zest and outrageous panache, as all his Ruell books were.

The Spy’s Wife (1980): Sadly overlooked in the Hill canon, but a heartfelt, romantic take on the female angle when a British spy is discovered (as they often are) to be a traitor.
“I could go on,” Ripley remarks at the end. That would be fine, except we’d really like to throw this open to The Rap Sheet’s well-read audience. What are the Reginald Hill novels you’ve most enjoyed over the last 40 years? Please make your selections in the Comments section at the bottom of this post.


pattinase (abbott) said...

On Beulah Heights.

The Passing Tramp said...

I'd add Child's Play and Dialogues of the Dead from the middle and later period and Ruling Passion and An April Shroud from the earlier. I had just started to look at one of his last ones, A Cure for All Diseases/The Price of Butcher's Meat, when the sad news came. I'm going to try to do retrospective reviews of several of his books for my blog, he is one of the post-Golden Age greats.

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

I really enjoyed _The Wood Beyond_ (1996) with its World War I plot line.

Greg M said...

I loved pretty much all of the books, but I think that if I had to choose one favourite, it would be Pictures of Perfection. Not your usual mystery story, it was a great spotlight novel for Sgt. Wield. It also showed that Mr. Hill was a master of creating characters, and that everyone of them mattered. I couldn't imagine Dalziel & Pascoe without the Sergeant.

Joe McCusker said...

I heartily concur with above and add that Bones and Silence has quite simply one of the most unforgettable endings in crime fiction. He was also a master of the short story-"Exit Line" (no relation to novel) is a real gem

Barbara said...

I discovered Hill woefully late with The Woodcutter. That is one of my favorite books ever. Now I have many others to read and enjoy.