Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill

Midnight Fugue (Book 24, Dalziel & Pacoe Series)
by Reginald Hill
Release Date: October 24, 2010
2010 Harper
Trade Paperback Edition; 358 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-145197-3
Genre: Murder / Myster
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Still recovering from a near-fatal bomb blast, Superintendent Andy Dalziel is eager to get back up to speed - and loses an entire day in the process.

Agreeing to help Gina Wolfe search for her missing husband - a policeman who vanished years earlier under a very dark cloud - "Fat Andy" doesn't realize that events set in motion decades ago will come to a violent head on this otherwise ordinary summer's day.  Caught up in an intricate composition played up-tempo by a vicious gangster and his politician son; a tabloid journalist chasing the deadliest story of his career; and a desperate wife/widow/fiancee unaware of the target on her forehead, Dalziel has only twenty-four hours to pursue this twisting piece to its shocking, discordant conclusion - hoping that justice will not be among the ultimate victims.

My Thoughts
Midnight Fugue is the twenty-fourth instalment of the Pasco and Dalziel series and is very different from any of the earlier instalments in this series.

Still groggy and unsure from a terrorist bomb which almost killed him several books ago, Superintendent Andy Dalziel is anxious to get back to his job and his normal routine – but apparently loses an entire day in the process. On his way to what he thought was a Monday morning meeting, he inadvertently ends up at a local Cathedral and runs into Gina Wolfe, a woman who has been tracking him down in order to ask for his help locating a missing (dead?) husband who disappeared under mysterious circumstances almost seven years before. When Andy agrees to help, and put together his missing day at the same time, he somehow sets in motion a series of events that began decades ago, events that will come together and reach a violent end before the day is over.

This was one the funniest – and quickest – novels in this series that I have read. The entire sequence of events took place in less than twenty-four hours, and the pace was riveting to say the least. From the moment Andy left his flat in the morning to the final events in the novel, the pace was relentless, moving from one scene to another, never giving the reader a chance to breathe. Peopled with a variety of characters, from the Welsh reporters, one who got in the way following a different story and his brother, to the senior Welsh policeman caught in a hilariously funny compromising position in the back seat of his car, to the uptight Maggie Pinchbeck who works for and keeps in check an up-and-rising young MP and is looking for revenge, to Pascoe and Wield, longtime co-workers of Dalziel’s, and to Novello, who will always help out Dalziel when help is needed. The witty and fun dialogue between the characters adds a sense of suspense and tension to the novel as well as a touch of irony and farce. The interaction between the characters is always a strength of Hill’s narrative writing style; he makes you want to keep reading to see what happens next.

Andy Dalziel has always been one of my favourite characters because he is so different from the usual cop stereotype, and he doesn’t disappoint in this novel. To be honest, this is one of the first novels where I saw him as being more than human rather than superhuman; for example, after eating a scrumptious lunch and drinking more than was good for him, he fell asleep for more than two hours in Gina Wolfe’s hotel room which created a miasma of problems for him as events in the novel will tell. That type of thing would never have happened in previous novels and I really enjoyed seeing some fallability in Andy. The resulting events found Andy scrambling for the first time to explain himself and it put him in a defensive position, something he had never experienced. It definitely gave him a new perspective on other people and his job.

Midnight Fugue
was an enjoyable novel, full of fun, with many serious moments as well. Mr. Hill is definitely on top of his game and shows he can pack a powerful punch when least expected as well as keep one entertained at the same time. I was completely caught off guard by the surprising twist of an ending, but “what goes around, comes around”. I am looking forward to reading the next novel in this delightful series.