Hill, Reginald. Child’s Play.

NY: Macmillan, 1987.

This is the ninth episode in the adventures of DI Peter Pascoe and his large, profane, heavily biased, but also brilliant boss, Superintendent Andy Dalziel, head of Mid-Yorkshire CID. The first couple of volumes in the series were rather derivative in plot and a bit wobbly in style, but it didn’t take Hill long to find his footing and the past half-dozen books have been excellent. The plots are original and convoluted, the characters are multifaceted, and the tongue-in-cheek humor is delightfully “British.”

This time it all turns on the death of the elderly and long-widowed Gwen Huby and the fact that she’s never given up hope that her only son, who was MIA in 1944 in Italy, is still alive somewhere. So she leaves her entire estate to him, with the proviso that if he still hasn’t turned up a century after his birth, it all goes to two charities and a fascist political group. The other members of the two related families aren’t happy about this. They’ve been counting on their assumed inheritance. And then an Italian stranger turns up at the graveside, disturbing the funeral with a loud claim to be the missing heir. The family lawyer asks Dalziel to check this guy out — just as a personal favor, since there’s no crime involved — but then the claimant turns up dead. And there’s no lack of locals who would benefit.

The cast of characters is a three-ring circus of contention, with demands being made, plots being hatched, and a couple of low-key conspiracies bubbling along. A very enjoyable yarn — and even the Epilogue throws in a last-minute surprise.

Published in: on 14 December 2016 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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