REGINALD HILL – Bones and Silence. Delacorte, hardcover, 1990. Dell, paperback, 1991. First published in the UK: Collins Crime Club, hardcover, 1990.

RGEINALD HILL Bones and Silence

   After a night on the town, Superintendent Andy Dalziel witnesses a shooting in the house across the way from his kitchen window. Though he’s sure what he saw was murder, the Law will not prosecute solely on the testimony of a drunken policeman, and the two surviving occupants of the house — the husband and lover of the deceased victim — both insist she was killed accidentally while they were trying to prevent her suicide. Then one of them disappears.

   Meanwhile, Dalziel has been getting anonymous notes from a woman threatening to kill herself, and been finagled into playing God in a series of Medieval Mystery plays staged by the newly-appointed Director of the Civic Theater, a lovely Eurasian.

   Just another routine Hill effort, his “routine” consisting of fully realized characters, sly wit and an engaging plot, well told. Bones and Silence is over 300 pages long, but Hill manages to pull off one surprise after another, right up to the end.

   At which point (right up to the end), I suddenly realized what the relationship between Dalziel and his chief underling, Chief Inspector Pascoe, reminded me of: Check out Mayor Skeffington and his nephew in Edwin O’Connor’s The Last Hurrah (Spencer Tracey and Jeffrey Hunter in the faithful film) and see if you don’t find some remarkable similarities, even down to Pascoe/Hunter’s wife.