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by Reginald Hill
Delacorte Press, January 2002
558 pages
ISBN: 0385336004

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A man is found drowned just below a bridge. His van is parked just before the bridge. His toolbox is on the bridge. It is considered an accident by the Mid-Yorkshire police. Shortly thereafter, a young musician loses control of his motorbike, crashes into a tree, and dies. Another accident? But Rye Pomona, librarian, and her boss, Dick Dee, currently doing a preliminary reading of short stories for a contest being run by the local newspaper, come across two short pieces which are dialogues referring to the two deaths. Constable Ethelbert "Hat" Bowler is sent to the library to get these possible clues and falls heavily for Raina.

Pascoe's nemesis, Franny Roote, has come to town, along with his tutor, Sam Johnson. When the third murder occurs, Pascoe suspects Franny and has him followed. The killer is called The Wordman, since he enjoys wordplay. Dee plays a game he and a couple of shcoolmates had invented...sort of a complicated Scrabble with changing rules. Dee loves wordplay. But so, it seems, does everyone else in this complicated tale.

This book is long. It sat on my bookshelf for many months before I felt ready to tackle it, but Hill has not lost his touch. Fat Andy Dalziel continues to surprise with his wit and intelligence, Bowler looks to be a young Peter Pascoe, and Pascoe and Wield continue to be their own competent selves. Don't think you have figured out the murderer. In an ending worthy of HOUSEBOAT ON THE STYX, Hill amazes and delights the reader.  

Note: This review is based on the UK paperback edition.

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, January 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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