Hill, Reginald. On Beulah Height.

NY: Delacorte, 1998.

Things haven’t been going very smoothly lately for DCI Peter Pascoe of Mid-Yorkshire CID. He recently discovered his grandfather had been executed by firing squad in Flanders by his own side for not being sufficiently enthusiastic about the War, and his rage at the unjustness of it, even eighty years later, is quietly consuming him. And in this episode in Hill’s award-winning series, he suddenly faces a threat even closer to home that he has no way to combat.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Dalziel and Sergeant Wield — the other two-thirds of “the terrible trio” — are immersed in the case of a missing seven-year-old girl from a small town that mirrors to an unsettling extent a case fifteen years before that was never solved. Three young girls went missing then, and the blame gradually settled on an inoffensive young local man simply because he, too, vanished at about the same time. A fourth girl back then, who escaped, has blossomed into a classical singer of major talent and serious prospects, and she becomes the catalyst for the current investigation. The location of the earlier mystery was a village over the ridge which was shortly afterward drowned by a newly constructed dam, and the ruins of which are now reappearing because of an extended drought. And that becomes a metaphor for both rediscovery and resurrection.

This is one of most affecting books in the series so far, combining heart-rending emotion with cold-blooded investigation in the past and the present. There’s humor, too, of course — Dalziel is always a good source of laughs, even at his most serious — but it’s more toned-down than usual.


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