Reginald Hill, On Beulah Height

Posted April 10, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

On Beulah Height (Dalziel & Pascoe, #17) On Beulah Height (Dalziel & Pascoe, #17) by Reginald Hill
Series: Dalziel & Pascoe, 17
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seventeenth in the Dalziel and Pascoe mystery series set in contemporary Mid-Yorkshire.

My Take
Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow…this was good. Can ya tell…I think this was good. I’m still a bit overwhelmed…wow.

I actually thought I was reading the first book in the series and I was so impressed by how well entrenched all the characters were. You truly can read this story out of its order as Hill doesn’t leave you wondering what you’ve missed. Instead, I fell into their story in total comfort. As though I had known them forever. Now I’m curious about all that has gone before…tch…never happy, am I?

Hill has done a beautiful job of writing Yorkshire dialog. It feels very authentic and yet up-to-date. No, I’m not trying to be catty. It’s just that you know the story is set in a contemporary day and the characters are everyday people comfortable in “today” while 
”in character” with their Yorkshire accent and all those “were”s. It helped set the atmosphere beautifully.

It’s a compelling story with a lovely cast of varied characters. Everyday characters enduring the dramas that attach to parenthood and policework in such a way that you want to know what will happen next. I love the introspection Hill provides us in Pascoe’s worries about his daughter and how she views their family; the conclusions we draw as we learn more about Elizabeth and Betsy Allgood—I’d certainly never have expected Elizabeth to turn out as she has…until I reached the end; Ellie Pascoe’s thoughts on her many writing rejections are hauntingly funny; there’s Novello’s worries about the retreats and advances in her own career along with her assessments of the “Holy Trinity”;

Hill intrigues and teases with his subtle red herrings although I am confused as to why everyone ignored the ‘strine accent of the mysterious “Benny Lightfoot”…!

I did enjoy Digweed’s paraphrase of Churchill’s quote when Monte “came to visit”: “Naturally my first thought was, I’m being raped by an ape,…So I lay back and thought of Africa.”

One thought that rises is that we never pay enough attention to what children say. Nor do we remember how they interpret what they see in relation to what they know…just ask Rosie. And the greatest tragedy? We teach them to tell us what will make us adults happy. We tell them that they should always tell the truth, but then punish them for it. It only teaches them to repeat to us what they think we want to hear. The truth may not have saved anyone the first time around…but, at least, there may have been a chance.

“The Sumo Wrestler as Sex Object.”

Ooh, and yet more snark!

The Story
History is repeating itself when a little girl goes missing on the fells. A throwback to a series of disappearances 12 years earlier when the village of Dendale drowned.

It’s the Dacre family drama when young Lorraine goes missing that brings back all the past fears and opens us to the inner family and individual crises of those involved from adulteries, child interactions, the dangers of self-righteousness, the terror of meningitis, old romances, the give-and-take amongst the cops, writer and performer anxieties, and successes and failures set in a village where so many seem to know everyone else.

Finally, it brings an most unexpected resolution that will make you nuts..!

The Characters
Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel, a.k.a., the Fat Man, is the head of CID and pretty much god amongst the Yorkshire police force. Use his name and it’s “open sesame”. Amanda “Cap” Marvell reappears back in Andy’s life. Detective Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe is suffering from depression and there’s his writer wife Ellie and their daughter Rosie. Sergeant “Nobby” Clark seems to live up to his nickname. Detective Inspector Maggie Burroughs organizes the search of the fells. Edwin Digweed is an antiquarian bookseller and the publisher of the Eendale Press as well as Sergeant Edgar Wield‘s partner. Detective Constable Shirley Novello is anxious to prove herself on this case. Detective Inspector George Headingley is very carefully minding his time until he retires. Sergeant Tom Merriman is the chief mermaid who makes a surprising discovery putting paid to several years-old questions. Jeannie Plowright is now head of Social Services at County Hall and a big help in locating Mrs. Lightfoot.

The Dendale villagers in the first set of dramas:
Aunt Chloe Wulfstan and her snobby husband Walter with their daughter Mary; Cedric and Mrs. Hardcastle and their Jenny; and Joe and Mrs. Telford with their Madge and more. Betsy Allgood was a seven-year-old, very involved, witness. Mr. Pontifex owned most of the farms in the area and let them to farmers on a tenancy. Arne Krog is a Norwegian baritone who has been singing at the Mid-Yorkshire Dales Music Festival from the beginning and his unsocial accompanist Inger Sandel. Dalziel is pretty cheeky in his stubborn adherence to mistaking the Norwegian’s nationality! Benny Lightfoot is a shy young man who passionately avoids others causing them to consider him daft and he’s a person of interest in the crimes. He moved in with his grandmother, Mrs. Agnes Lightfoot, when his mother remarried and took his brother Barnaby off to Oz. Geordie Turnbull was one of the heavy plant operators on the dam—and a person of interest. I did enjoy Hill’s description of Turnbull as a most charming ladies’ man…gentlemen, you could learn sometihng from this!

The Danby villagers in today’s drama include:
Elizabeth Wulfstan is a young up-and-coming singer who has returned to the area for a music festival. Tony and Elsie Coe Dacre and their Lorraine. Benny Lightfoot has left his mark in Mid-Yorkshire: his speed is a byword and the children sing rhymes about him while the seeker in hide-and-seek is “the Benny”. Mrs. Shimmings is the head teacher at St. Michael’s Primary. The mildly lecherous Derek and unpretentious Jill Purlingstone with their daughter Zandra, Rosie’s best friend, is more of a useful side note. The Hardcastles are here with young Jed who provides some insight into how parents unconsciously destroy their children.

Billie Saltair, the matron at the Wark House, provides useful information and contacts.

The Title
The title is the key to this story for the answers are found On Beulah Height.

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