Book review: Reginald Hill — Arms and the Women

Someone tries to abduct Ellie Pascoe, and the obvious assumption is that it’s to get at Peter — but there’s more going on than meets the eye. Some of Ellie’s activist friends have very interesting connections, and chance brings some of them together in even more interesting patterns. Unfortunately for everyone concerned, one of Dalziel’s unwanted connections doesn’t believe in coincidences…

This is definitely not one for new readers — the opening sequence requires a good deal of patience, and trust that it will eventually make sense. In fact, it’s an excellent example of the sort of thing new writers are advised not to do. Even long-time fans of the series will be left wondering what is going on for the first three chapters. Things gradually become clear, and in retropect the initial section makes a great deal of sense. Whether you like it or not will depend on what you look for in a Dalziel and Pascoe book. This novel focuses on Ellie Pascoe and her friends, and there’s much less of Dalziel and police procedural material than usual. That’s partly because much of the Dalziel and Pascoe page count is in the form of a novella Ellie is writing, with the pair cast as Odysseus and Aeneas. Chapters from Ellie’s novel are woven into the main storyline, eventually tying in with the “real life” location of the main story. I enjoyed the book, and very much enjoyed the story-within-a-story, but I can see why others wouldn’t.

This book is complete in itself, but is strongly tied in to the long term universe development of the series, with references to events in several previous books. There’s enough backstory worked in that there’s no need to have read the earier books, but you’ll probably get more out of this one if you’re already familiar with some of the backstory. It also contains significant spoilers for previous books, including the outcome of An Advancement Of Learning. In turn, some of the later books refer back to events in this one, but it’s not necessary to read this one first to enjoy the later books.

In summary, worth reading but not for everyone, and ideally should not be read before reading the earlier An Advancement of Learning.

Arms and the Women (Dalziel and Pascoe Mysteries (Paperback)) at amazon.com

Arms and the Women at amazon.co.uk

Arms and the Women at Barnes & Noble

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