An April Shroud, by Reginald Hill

A Dalziel(sp?) and Pascoe book - although Pascoe disappears off on his honeymoon in the first chapter and doesn't return until the last bit of the book, so I assume it's not typical of the series.

While on holiday in Lincolnshire, Dalziel gets his car stuck in a flooded road, and invites himself to stay with a family who cross his path while on their way back home from a funeral. People in the family are acting a bit oddly, so maybe something strange is going on here?

I assumed, because let's be honest this is a "crime" novel, that Dalziel is going to uncover some crime, and so settled down to be entertained. But then nothing much happens. Still, there must be a cracking climax, so keep going. Presumably there'll be some twist which will throw everything into a new light and make sense of things. But although we do get two or three suspicious deaths, there's very little tension and it's all a bit flat - we end up knowing what (probably) happened but don't really care.

I've never watched D+P on the telly, and never read any other books in the series, so assume that this one is an attempt to develop Dalziel's character by giving him a bit of an unusual story line. I can't believe that the series could be successful if the rest of the stories are as poor as this. The whole thing was implausible - starting with Dalziel just happening to end up staying with this family, and ending with Pascoe just happening to visit the family's restaurant at the end of his honeymoon and bumping into Dalziel, and with loads of other ridiculously unbelievable stuff in the middle. But that wouldn't have been too bad if the story had been any good.

Needless to say, this is the kind of book where the author has so little confidence in the strength of his plot that he needs a section at the end where Dalziel explains to the family how he worked out their secrets. But that's not all: we then get a conversation between D+P with Pascoe saying "but I still don't understand how...". And that's not all: we then get a coda with Dalziel musing to himself about the case which gives the author the chance to tie up all the remaining loose ends.

Very poor. I only carried on listening to all of it because I was waiting for the second half of Middlemarch to arrive from the library.

Completed : 12-May-2003 (audiobook, read by Colin Buchanon)

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