Hill, Reginald. Underworld.

NY: Scribner, 1988.

This tenth outing for Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel of Mid-Yorkshire CID and his long-suffering right hand, DI Peter Pascoe (who finally gets his promotion to Chief Inspector), takes them into a mining community during the reign of Margaret Thatcher, who was determined to utterly destroy the unions — and very nearly succeeded.

A few years before, there had been a rash of child-killings in the region and when the culprit ( or a culprit) killed himself, the local ACC was happy to dump the blame for all the other cases on him, too. But one little girl in the village of Burrthorpe may have been the victim of someone else.

Then there’s Colin Farr, a holy terror among his fellow miners but also very attractive to women, who is enrolled in an “outreach” class being taught by Pascoe’s academic wife, Ellie. And she’s very taken with young Colin, which complicates her life considerably. Colin is determined to get even with Burrthorpe and everyone in it for the death of his father, who may have been lynched as a result of the killing mentioned above. And then there’s the murder of one of the mining company supervisors, which may be Colin’s doing, too — though the dead man was far from popular.

Aside from the plotline about the murder (or two murders, or three), Hill takes us into the depths of the time-warped community whose days as a going concern we now know are numbered, and the relationships among its inhabitants, and the very deep political and social divisions between them and the rest of Britain – and even the rest of Yorkshire. There’s also a good deal more this time than usual on the domestic situation of the Pascoes, who are quite different from each other in their personalities and goals. One of the more thought-provoking books in the series so far.


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