The Price of Butcher's Meat (Dalziel and Pascoe Series #23)

The Price of Butcher's Meat (Dalziel and Pascoe Series #23)

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by Reginald Hill

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A bomb couldn't kill Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel—but his convalescence at the Avalon Clinic in the quaint seaside resort of Sandytown ("Home of the Healthy Holiday") just might. Sneaking out to the local pub provides Fat Andy with a bit of necessary diversion, allowing him a pint or two on the sly, plus an update on the world of trouble outside the…  See more details below


A bomb couldn't kill Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel—but his convalescence at the Avalon Clinic in the quaint seaside resort of Sandytown ("Home of the Healthy Holiday") just might. Sneaking out to the local pub provides Fat Andy with a bit of necessary diversion, allowing him a pint or two on the sly, plus an update on the world of trouble outside the clinic—including the very different plans of a pair of powerful landowners for putting Sandytown more prominently on the map. But when a rather macabre murder calls Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe onto the scene, Fat Andy realizes that Avalon itself is no sanctuary from the lethal secrets of the local elite—or from the death tide that now, suddenly, is rising quite rapidly.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In Hill's solid 23rd Dalziel and Pascoe procedural set in Yorkshire, Det. Supt. Andy Dalziel doesn't see much of his longtime colleague, DCI Peter Pascoe, because Dalziel is recovering from the serious injuries he suffered in Death Comes for the Fat Man(2007) in the quiet resort of Sandytown. When the charred corpse of wealthy Lady Daphne Denham turns up in a revolving basket that had been used for a pig roast in Sandytown, the two policemen pursue largely independent investigations. Much of the background to Denham's demise comes from e-mails that in spots may puzzle those unfamiliar with e-mail jargon. More deaths follow before Hill offers a final twist that's unlikely to catch experienced genre readers by surprise. The crotchety Dalziel's chafing at the restrictions at the convalescent home where he's staying provides some amusing distraction from the somewhat leisurely crime solving. Newcomers might better start with earlier books in the series. (Nov.)

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Library Journal

Since On Beulah Height, each entry in Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe series has illustrated the British author's ever-growing creativity with language and genre. In this 23rd entry, Dalziel is recovering from injuries sustained in a bombing (Death Comes for the Fat Man) at a convalescent home in the seaside resort of Sandytown. Hill begins the story by having sections narrated by Dalziel, who has been given a voice recorder by his doctor, along with instructions to talk about his feelings and memories of the previous events. Email messages from a woman called Charley to her sister alternate with those passages. Circumstances bring Dalziel and Charley together, and in addition to a number of strange events and questionable characters, murder pays a visit, cueing the arrival of Pascoe and the others to investigate. The plot twists and turns at a dizzying pace. The blend of Dalziel's voice, Charley's grammatically challenged emails, and Hill's familiar, graceful prose and witty dialog all add to the effect. Someone new to the series will want to start with an earlier volume, but fans of Hill's work will certainly enjoy this latest ride.
—Beth Lindsay

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Dalziel and Pascoe Series , #23
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The Price of Butcher's Meat

Chapter One

Subject: cracked jugs—daft buggers—& tank traps

Hi Cass!

Hows things in darkest Africa? Wierd & wonderful—I bet—but not so w&w as what weve got here at Willingden Farm. Go on—guess! OK—give up?


& I dont mean awful Uncle Ernie on one of his famous surprise visits. These are strangers!

What happened—at last after our awful wet summer Augusts turned hot—not African hot but pretty steamy by Yorkshire standards. Dad & George were working up in Mill Meadow. Mum asked if Id take them a jug of lemon barley—said it would please dad if I showed willing. Weve been in armed truce since I made it clear my plans hadnt changed—ie do a postgrad thesis instead of getting a paid job—or better still—a wellpaid husband—& settling down! But no reason not to show willing—plus it gave me an excuse to drive the quad—so off I went.

Forgot the mugs—but dad didnt say anything—just drank straight out of the jug like he preferred it—so maybe mum was right & he was pleased. In fact we were having a pleasant chat when suddenly old Fang let out a growl. Lost half his teeth & cant keep up with the sheep anymore—but still manages a grand growl. Dad looked round to see what had woken him—& his face went into Headbanger configuration.

—whats yon daft bugger playing at?—he demanded.

Youll recall that in dadsdemography anyone living outside Willingden parish is a daft bugger till proved innocent. In this case I half-agreed with him.

The DB in question was driving his car fast up the lane alongside Mill Meadow. How he got through the gate I dont know. The HB had to take his chain & lock off after the Ramblers took him to court last year—but hes fixed a catch like one of them old metal puzzles we used to play with as kids. Maybe the DB just got lucky—he thought!

He was driving one of these new hybrid 4 × 4s—you know—conscience without inconvenience!—& when he saw how good the surface was—(tractor tyres dont grow on trees!—remember?)—he mustve thought—great!—now for a bit of safe off-roading.

What he didnt reckon on was what George calls dads tank trap—the drainage ditch where the lane bends beyond the top gate & steepens up to the mill ruin.

New tourist map came out last year—with water mill marked—no mention of ruin. Result—a lot of DBs decided this meant Heritage Centre—guided tours & cream teas! After losing out to the Ramblers—dad was forced to accept "bearded wierdies" trekking across his empire—but the sight of cars crawling up his lane drove him crazy. So one day he got to work with the digger—& when hed finished—the drainage ditch extended across the lane—a muddy hollow a hippo could wallow in—the tank trap!

Most drivers flee at the sight of it—but this DB obviously thought his hybrid could ford rivers & climb Alps—& just kept going.

Bad decision.

For 30 secs the wheels sent out glutinous brown jets—like a cow with colic—then the car slipped slowly sideways—finishing at 45 degrees—driver side down.

—now hell expect us to pull him out—said the HB with some satisfaction.

Moment later the passenger door was flung back. First thing out was a floppy brimmed sunhat—sort posh lady gardeners wear in the old Miss Marple movies. Beneath it was a woman who started to drag herself out—followed by a scream from below—suggesting shed stood on some bit of the driver not meant to be stood on.

She looked round in search of help—& there we were—me—dad—George—& Fang—staring back at her from 50 yds.

—help!—she called—please—can you help me?—

George & me looked at the HB—G because he knows his place—me because I was curious what hed do.

If it had been a man I doubt hed have moved—not without serious negotiation. But this was a woman doing what women ought to do—calling for male assistance.

—reckon wed best take a look—he said—we meaning him & George—of course.

He drained the lemon barley—thrust the jug into my hands like I was a docile milkmaid—& set off toward the accident—G close behind—even old Fang got to go.

I dropped the jug onto the grass. Sods Law—hit a stone & cracked.—O shit!—I said. It was that old earthenware one thats been around forever. I knew the HB would reckon bringing out the lemon barley in anything else would be like serving communion wine from a jam jar. O well—from now on hell have to make do with a plastic bottle!

I set off after them. This was the first mildly interesting thing to happen since I came home—& I wasnt going to miss it.

Woman was thin & wispy—bonnet askew—big straw shoulder bag round her neck like a horses feed sack. She looked so worried I thought the driver must be seriously injured—but now I know its just a couple of notches up from her normal expression of unfocused anxiety. Another thing I noticed—words sprayed on the car door—pro job—elegant cursive script—SandytownHome of the Healthy Holiday.

She was saying—please can you get my husband out? I think hes hurt himself—

—no—Im fine—came a mans voice—really—just a sprain—nothing in the world to worry about dear—aargh!

As he spoke his head had appeared at his wifes waist level. Gingery hair—soft brown eyes in a narrow mobile face—not bad looking even with a bloodied nose—mid to late 30s. He was trying a social smile—till presumably he put more weight on his ankle than it could take.

George jumped up on the side of the vehicle—hooked his hands under the womans armpits—& swung her clear of the muddy sump into dads arms. At 18—G makes Arnie Schwarzenegger look like a hobbit! On our skiing trip last December (yeah that one—when I hooked up with lousy Liam)—I could have rented G out to my mates by the hour. In fact—if you count free rounds of glühwein as rental—thats exactly what I did!

The Price of Butcher's Meat. Copyright © by Reginald Hill. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
b-quest More than 1 year ago
As always the plots are intriguing, the characters interesting, and have some depth, although this time Mr. Hill brings into his prose and story line a little Austin, and a great Dalziel(deal), of tongue and cheek. Much fun.
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VPI66 More than 1 year ago
The characters are interesting and the plot is good. I will certainly buy the next book in this series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Needing to recover from 'the big bang in Mill Street' that nearly killed him (see DEATH COMES FOR THE FAT MAN) and no one able or willing to take him in, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel heeds the advice of Ellie Pascoe, wife of the Chief Inspector. He obtains a room at the Avalon in Sandytown by the sea, ¿the Home of the Healthy Holiday¿. As he records his feelings per his therapist, Dalziel quickly realizes three families own the small resort town under the auspices of the Sandytown Development Consortium. The Parkers, Denhams and Hollises have ambitious plans for Sandytown until Lady Denham dies mysteriously. Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe leads the investigation in which Dalziel wants in if nothing else at least as a consultant on the other hand Pascoe desperately wants to keep his sick leave pal ¿Fat Andy¿ out so he can lead the show. --- This is a refreshing excellent follow-up to DEATH COMES FOR THE FAT MAN. The structure is a radical departure from the long running Dalziel-Pascoe police procedurals as it is told in six interrelated but unique volumes that make the tale more than a whodunit the story line is a deep character study allowing insight into Dalziel via his taped observations and email sent by local Charlie Whiffle. With a nod to ¿Janeites¿ and homage to Jane Austen and her unfinished novel, Reginald Hill provides a great tale. --- Harriet Klausner
calvinBM More than 1 year ago
I tried starting the book but could not get interested after a few pages. I will try once more, however.