Hill, Reginald. Recalled to Life.

NY: Delacorte, 1992.

The previous episode in the detecting and crime-solving adventures of Superintendent Andy Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe of Mid-Yorkshire CID was a little shaky, in my opinion, but Hill redeems himself with this thirteenth book in the series. It may be the best yet; it’s certainly the most psychologically complex.

Back in 1963, before the Kennedy assassination grabbed everyone’s attention, the big news in the UK was a series of scandals within the government and the diplomatic corps involving ministers, members of parliament, spies, and prostitutes. (Everybody my age remembers Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies.)

But it was also the year of the Mickledore Hall Murder, in which the young Detective Constable Dalziel was a participant, under the guidance of his mentor, Superintendent Tallantire. A woman was shot to death in the estate’s locked gunroom during a hunting weekend, “Mick” Mickledore himself was hanged for it, and a young American nanny, Cissy Kohler, went to prison as an accomplice for nearly forty years. Now, thanks to new revelations on a true-crime TV program, Cissy (who never bothered, for various reasons, to defend herself) has been released pending a review of the investigation.

Since Tallantire is long dead and unable to defend himself, the Home Office is likely to dump the blame conveniently on him, but Dalziel, who is nothing if not loyal to those he cares about, isn’t going to allow that to happen. And though he’s been warned to stay away, that’s never stopped him before. Of course, Pascoe, through loyalty to his own boss, gets roped into assisting. (He’s at loose ends anyway, due to personal domestic tensions.) And it appears now that an official cover-up was in place from the very beginning, several of the guests at the hall having been intelligence types from both MI-6 and the CIA, with their families and kids.

You’ll have to pay close attention because Hill doesn’t tell you everything explicitly. You must sort out the truth for yourself — it comes in several varieties and in several layers — at the same rate Dalziel and Pascoe do. Oh, and Fat Andy’s venture to the wilds of New York City and then to Williamsburg, Virginia, is a hoot and a half.

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