REGINALD HILL – Deadheads. Macmillan, US, hardcover, 1984. Collins Crime Club, UK, hc, 1983. Paperback reprint: Signet, US, 1985.


   Deadheads is a tour de force in more ways than one. Each chapter is named for a rose, whose characteristics make up the chapter heading; each is appropriate to the content, from “Mischief” for Chapter 1 to “F�licit� et Perpetu�” at the end.

   The title is a double entendre. Is it just coincidence that people die so conveniently for Patrick Aldermann, owner of the Rosemont estate and proud grower of roses? His employee, “Dandy Dick” Elgood, is suspicious and tells the police so, but then withdraws the complaint.

   But policemen are not so easily called off. Sergeant Pascoe is intrigued by another coincidence, his wife Elly and Aldermann’s wife Daphne meeting and becoming friends just as the investigation starts. Superintendent Dalziel, now being likened by his subordinates to a dinosaur, takes the opportunity of a conference in London to renew an old acquaintanceship with Aldermann’s mother, and thereby furthers the investigation.

   In collateral roles ugly Sergeant Wield, a secret but unrepentant homosexual, and police cadet Shaheen Singh, Yorkshire born and bred, are interesting additions to the police cast. Suspense is maintained right up to a smashing ending. A gripping story with well-realized characters — Hill gets better and better.

� Reprinted from The Poisoned Pen, Vol. 6, No. 4, Fall 1986.

Previously reviewed on this blog:

      Midnight Fugue (by Ray O’Leary)
      Ruling Passion (by Steve Lewis)