Arms and the Women (Dalziel and Pascoe Series #18)

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Overview

Someone attempts to abduct Ellie Pascoe, and her friend, Daphne Alderman, is assaulted by a man keeping watch on the Pascoe house. Dalziel, Pascoe and Wield feel certain there must be a link here with one of Pascoe's cases, either current or past. Only DC Shirley Novello wonders whether perhaps these events might have more to do with Ellie than her husband.

While the men concentrate on their individual theories, Ellie, her daughter Rosie, Daphne, and Novello (their official ...

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Overview

Someone attempts to abduct Ellie Pascoe, and her friend, Daphne Alderman, is assaulted by a man keeping watch on the Pascoe house. Dalziel, Pascoe and Wield feel certain there must be a link here with one of Pascoe's cases, either current or past. Only DC Shirley Novello wonders whether perhaps these events might have more to do with Ellie than her husband.

While the men concentrate on their individual theories, Ellie, her daughter Rosie, Daphne, and Novello (their official minder) head for the coast to the supposed safety of the Alderman's holiday home, Cleets Cottage. But their flight proves somewhat futile as Ellie's would-be abductor continues to send her letters of possibly threatening intent, composed in a strange Elizabethan English.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Reginald Hill:

"Hill remains one of the finest crime writers of this era."
--Booklist (starred review)

"Hill's polished, sophisticated novels are intelligently written and permeated with his sly and delightful sense of humor. More than most other mystery novels, Hill's Dalziel/Pascoe novels are enjoyable as much for their characters as for their complicated, suspenseful mystery plots."
--The Christian Science Monitor

"Reginald Hill has raised the classical British mystery to new heights."
--The New York Times Book Review

"A lot of people write classic detective stories, but Reginald Hill is one of the elite few who write classy classics."
--The Baltimore Sun

"The real joy of the Dalziel-Pascoe books is the writing and the characterizations. Mr. Hill has such disparate writers as Trollope, Beerbohm, Sayers and Shaw in his blood."
--The New York Times

From the Hardcover edition.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The young and cultured Peter Pascoe and the rotund, gruff Andy Dalziel have been paired to memorable effect in several outstanding crime novels (most recently, Beyond the Wood). Now, Hill's loyal readers are presented with four novellas that, in turn, introduce the pair, let each take a rare solo detecting flight and, perhaps weirdest of all, enter a space-age future for an almost absurd swansong for the mismatched twosome. Dalziel is taken hostage in the first story, "The Last National Service Man," and the young Pascoe gets to meet the tough Yorkshire copper for the first time under very strained circumstances. Ghost stories permeate the next two adventures, "Pascoe's Ghost" and "Dalziel' Ghost." In the first, Pascoe hunts in vain for a missing woman; in the next, the duo sit out a long night in a haunted house, and Dalziel, after several good-sized hits on the whisky bottle, lets slip a few secrets from his past. Finally, in "One Small Step," an older, gout-riddled Dalziel is taken aboard a space ship at the start of the 21st century, after a French astronaut trips and dies stepping onto the moon in full view of the TV cameras. As always, Hill enjoys tampering with the traditions of the genre and these four works serve less as working narratives than as welcome changes of pace that incorporate character studies, intimate and unguarded moments and flights of pure fancy. (Nov.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Few mystery authors know better than the prolific Hill (Singing the Sadness, Forecasts, Aug. 23) how to keep the delicate engine of a high-quality series running. After successfully mining the past for his last two books about Yorkshire coppers Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe (The Wood Beyond and On Beulah Height), he now takes an entirely new direction--centering the series' action on Pascoe's wife, Ellie, and surrounding her with a captivating gallery of mostly female characters. The result is a delightfully quirky, literate, often explosively funny novel that actually extends the genre's range. Ellie Pascoe--former activist and deeply involved teacher, now recovering from the serious medical threat to her nine-year-old daughter, Rosie, that was detailed in On Beulah Height--is a "pre-published" novelist working on a book about Odysseus (who in Ellie's hands sounds a lot like a Greek version of Fat Andy Dalziel, complete with Yorkshire vernacular). When a slick couple show up in an expensive car, claiming to be from the local education authority and offering to give her a lift to the spot where a bus carrying Rosie has broken down, Ellie almost goes along--escaping an abduction attempt only because of the deeply implanted suspicions of a cop's wife. Pascoe, Dalziel, the wonderfully resourceful Sgt. Edgar Wield and the extremely sharp Constable Shirley Novello try to link the attempted snatch to some of Pascoe's past cases and enemies, especially to the gorgeous money launderer Kelly Cornelius. Hill soon lets us know better, however, introducing a shadowy figure who calls herself Sybil and a wheelchair-bound intelligence gatherer working for a high-ranking spook. And there's also the Colombian drug bandits and Irish arms-runners who somehow figure into the attack on Ellie--and then in the assault on Ellie's marvelously acid, deceptively stiff-upper-lipped neighbor Daphne. Also vital to the plot is Feenie Macallum, the aged but doggedly energetic daughter of a legendary arms merchant, whose crumbling seaside estate provides the locale for the novel's amazing finale--a rare, perfect blend of danger and hilarity. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Hill has written some very good mysteries in the last several years (e.g., Asking for the Moon: Four Dalziel and Pascoe Tales), and this work continues that tradition. In fact, it is among his best, filled with classic Hill characters that include Dalziel and Pascoe. This time, they play supporting roles, as Hill's narrative focus shifts to other characters--some from past books and some brand new, some good and some evil. There are revolutionaries and drug couriers, embezzlers and spies; even Odysseus and Aeneas make an appearance. The story, which concerns the disappearance of several little girls, is slow to get moving as Hill reintroduces old plots lines and characters. But soon it picks up speed and takes the reader along. You could either start or complete your library's Reginald Hill collection here and serve your patrons well. Recommended for all libraries.--Patrick J. Wall, Univ. City P.L., MO Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This collection features the well-known British detectives Dalziel and Pascoe. Included are the stories of their first meeting and their investigation of the first murder on the moon. Recommended, especially for fans.
Kirkus Reviews
Time was when Peter Pascoe's wife Ellie was a bright star active in lots of save-the-world causes, from Greenpeace to Liberata, which works on behalf of female political prisoners. Now, it seems, her principal occupation is getting threatened, first with kidnaping by a smooth pair of operators she frightens away from her front door, then with assault by a furtive watcher who contents himself with attacking her helpful friend Daphne Aldermann instead. But Ellie, packed off with her daughter Rose and watchdog constable Shirley Novello to Nosebleed Cottage, the out-of-the-way place Daphne's bought from ancient Liberata founder Serafina Macallum, can't keep away from the action. While her husband and his Mid-Yorkshire colleague Supt. Andy Dalziel are chasing leads hoping to figure out why anybody would have it in for Pascoe's wife (ex-con Franny Roote, who's convinced Pascoe's evidence landed him in a mental institution? Kelly Cornelius, the fugitive accountant Pascoe nearly drove to her getaway plane before turning her in?), the women at Nosebleed Cottage hunker down for a siege that will feature gunrunners, spies, hostages, a meeting between epic supermales Odysseus and Aeneas, and, yes, a dark and stormy night. Plotted with all the exuberant inventiveness of Dalziel and Pascoe's best (On Beulah Height, 1998, etc.), though Hill's salute to the heroics of middle-aged womanhood ends with a flurry of melodramatics that's a shade extravagant for heroines of either sex. (Author tour)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440225942
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Series: Dalziel and Pascoe Series , #18
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 580,644
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 4.26 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Reginald Hill has been widely published both in England and in North America. He received Britain's most coveted mystery writing award, the Golden Dagger, for his Dalziel/Pascoe series. He lives in England.
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Read an Excerpt

spelt from Sibyl's Leaves

Eleanor Soper . . .

Memory time.

Yours, not mine.

Strange. I have been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave, and have been a diver in deep seas, and keep their fallen day about me, but my own reality still troubles me. The little patch of blue I can see through the high round window is probably the sky, but it could just as well be a piece of blue backcloth or a painted flat.

On the other hand, with one touch of a key, I open up your past, my Eleanor . . .

I remember I remember the house where you were born . . . The little window where the sun came peeping in at morn . . .

My window's too high, and I in my wheelchair too low for the sun to peep in at me. Distantly I hear a clatter of hooves. They're changing guard at . . . I've heard them do it thousands of times. But they could be mere sound effects played on tape. You don't take anything on trust in this business. Not even your friends. Especially not them. I who know everything knew nothing till I knew that.

Back to Eleanor. School and medical records . . . bright, alert, slightly hyperactive . . . an only child, much loved though maybe your father would have preferred a boy . . . ? This might explain your preference for soccer over netball . . . your fury when told you weren't eligible to play on the school soccer team. An awkward, angry teenager . . . an anger that was eventually chanelled into protests, sit-ins, flag-burning, civil disobedience . . . but did it stem in part from your reluctance to admit the undeniable evidence that you weren't a boy?

I remember, I remember the fir trees dark and high; I used to think their slender tops were close against the sky . . .

The only undeniable reality lies in the machine.

But while reality hardly changes at all, the machine has changed a lot. It grows young as I grow old.

Shall I like my namesake grow old forever?

My namesake, I say. After so long usage, am I starting to believe as so many of the youngsters clearly believe that my name really is Sibyl? Strange the name my parents gave me also labeled me as a woman of magic, but an enchantress as well as a seer. Morgan. Morgan Meredith. Morgan le Fay as Gaw used to call me in the days of his enchantment.

But now my enchanting days are over. And it was Gaw who rechristened me when he saw that I had no magic to counter the sickness in my blood.

A wise man hides his mistakes in plain sight, then over long time slowly corrects them.

My dear old friend Gawain Clovis Sempernel is a wise man. No one would deny it. Not if they've any sense.

Aroynt thee, hag. Ripeness is all. And I have work to do.

When I first took on my sacred office, the machine loomed monumentally, like a Victorian family tomb. Thirty years on, it's smaller than an infant's casket, leaving plenty of room on the narrow tabletop for my flask and mug, and also my inhaler and pill dispenser, though generally I keep these hidden. Sounds silly when you're in a wheelchair, but I was brought up to believe you don't advertise your frailties.

That's a lesson a lot of folk never learn, which is why so many of them end up frozen in my electronic casket where there's always room for plenty more.

If I wanted I could ask it to tell me exactly how many people had passed through my hands, or, rather, my fingertips, for that's the closest I get to actually handling people. But I don't bother. This isn't about statistics, this is about individuals. Like Eleanor Soper.

For my casket is also an incubator.

Here they make their first appearance, often looking completely helpless and harmless. But, oh, how quickly they grow, and I oversee their progress with an almost parental pride as their details accumulate and their files fatten out.

Some live up to their promise. (By which I mean threat!)

Others, apparently, change direction completely. Such converts I always regard with grave suspicion, even if--especially if--they make it to the very top. They're either faking it, in which case we're ready for them. Or they're genuine, which means the contents of these files could be a serious embarrassment.

It's always nice to know you can embarrass your masters.

But the great majority merely fade away, became ghosts of their vibrant young selves.

You, Eleanor, begin to fade the day you trip into church as Ms. Soper, the academic radical, and stroll out as Mrs. Pascoe, the policeman's wife. For a while you resist the change . . . but then you start a family . . . move out of academe . . . one last fling in the underworld of miners' politics . . . and after that . . . perhaps you simply found that marching with a kid on your back wasn't so much fun . . . perhaps . . . or perhaps not. . . .

Let's take a look at your current protest status, Eleanor Pascoe.

Amnesty--member, nonactive; Anti-Fascist Action--lapsed; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament--lapsed; Gay Rights--lapsed; Graduates Against God--lapsed; Greenpeace--member, nonactive; Labour Party--member, nonactive; Liberata Trust--member, active;  Quis Custodiet?--lapsed; Third World  United--lapsed; Women's Rights Action Group--lapsed; World Socialist Alliance--lapsed.

Once you squawked so loud in your incubator, Eleanor, now you rest so quiet.

Gaw Sempernel (let no dog bark) says there is nothing so suspicious as silence. Must have watched a lot of cowboy films in his youth. It's quiet out there, Gaw . . . too damn quiet! But don't underestimate Gaw. He is often right.

Certainly neither sound nor silence gets you out of my casket. Once inside, there you stay forever. And if your presence is ever needed, you can be conjured up in a trice, like the wraiths of the classical underworld, which as my classically educated Gawain likes to remind me were summoned to appear by the smell and the taste of fresh blood.

For machines may change, and fashions change, and human flesh, God help us, changes most inevitably of all.

But some people have at their hearts something which refuses to change, despite all life shows them by way of contra-evidence. Perhaps it is a genetic weakness. Certainly, once established, like the common cold, no one has yet found a way of eradicating it.

Which is why I, practicing what I preach, have demonstrated to the world (or that section of it which shares this lonely building in the heart of this populous city), that there is life after death by staying in gainful employment all these years, Sibyl the Sibyl, sitting here in my solitary cell, hung high in my lonely cage, laying the bodies out neatly in my electronic casket, and, when necessary, conjuring them back to life.

My poor benighted ghosts scenting blood once more.

Have you really changed, my Eleanor Soper? Or do you still nurse a secret hope that the fir trees' slender tops really do brush against the sky?

If so, then you may be in for a lesson in reality. It was a childish ignorance, but now 'tis little joy to know you're farther off from Heaven than when you were a boy.

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Table of Contents

1 The Last National Service Man 1
2 Pascoe's Ghost 59
3 Dalziel's Ghost 171
4 One Small Step 203
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 1999

    Another Wonderful Reginald Hill Book

    I have read and greatly enjoyed each one of the talented Reginald Hill's [aka Patrick Ruell] books. Like my other favorite authors [Ruth Rendell, aka Barbara Vine, P. D. James, and S. T. Haymon] Mr. Hill's mystery novels are entertaining, exciting, and quite unpredictable---everything a book lover seeks, but does not always find. Do yourselves a favor, and locate all of Mr. Hill's books and read them in order---this is the best way to fully appreciate the lives of his characters as they unfold.

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