REGINALD HILL – Pictures of Perfection. Dalziel & Pascoe #14. Harper Collins, UK, hardcover, 1994. Delacorte, US, hardcover, 1994. Dell, US, paperback, 1995.

   A rather officious young polilcemann has gone missing in the Yorkshire town of Enscombe, or at least his immediate superior thinks he has. Dalziel isn’t at all sure there’s anything wrong, but nevertheless dispatches Pascoe and Sergeant Wield to check into things.

   Beneath the semi-placid surface of the village several potentially hazardous are fermenting away among the locals, the Squire and his family, and all sorts of people. The policeman is indeed missing, but the hows, whys, and wheres remain elusive.

   Reginald Hill is assured a place in my heart if for no other reason than this line referring to the 80s: “But they were not long, the days of swine and Porsches.” Priceless. Hill to my eye is one of the finest prose stylists working today in any discipline.

   He is also one of the best at delineating character. Not just his regulars — the choleric and canny Dalziel, the intense and intelligent Pascoe, the gay Sergeant with the gargoyle face Wield — but also the people into whose lives they are thrust.

   Wield somewhat takes center stage here, thous as usual Hill tells his story from many viewpoints. The book begins with a man running amok with a gun, and ends in a way that I think will surprise you. Hill certainly intends for it to, anyway.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #14, August 1994.