In the fifth book of the series, Dalziel and Pascoe have been working together long enough to have formed a good partnership. So Peter Pascoe is surprised when Dalziel dismisses a lead Pascoe is given on a porn film that may be more than it seems. Pascoe’s dentist is convinced that one scene in the current offering at the local private film club was not achieved by special effects, but showed a genuine beating–one severe enough that the actress might well have died as a result.
Pascoe pursues the matter in spite of Dalziel’s disinterest, and won’t drop it even when the dentist is accused of molesting an underage patient. When the elderly owner of the film club is found beaten to death, Pascoe suspects a link with his investigation of the possible snuff film. As he digs deeper it becomes clear that there’s something very nasty going on. But there are a good many threads to untangle before he uncovers the full story.
As usual with this series, this book is a well-crafted police procedure with stylish writing and a good deal of humour, though Hill never trivializes the crimes he describes. The book is self-contained and can be read without having first read any of the previous books. There’s some development of the long term story of the main characters, with the introduction of Sergeant Wield, and a look at the early months of Peter and Ellie’s marriage. Ideally the series should be read in order, but this entertaining and thoughtful book makes a good startng point if the earlier books aren’t available.