On 12 January 2012, one of my favourite authors died: Reginald Hill. He was, of course, best known for his 24 novels starring the redoubtable Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and his trusted sidekick Detective Sergeant/Inspector/Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe. Hill was 75 and succumbed to a brain tumor. He left a final Dalziel and Pascoe novel for publication, which is due in 2013. (Read the Writeside.net reviews of the Dalziel and Pascoe series. More to come.)
H.R.F. Keating said of Reginald Hill that he was “perhaps the most interesting of his generation of crime writers”. In fact, “interesting” is rather understating it. Hill made an art form out of playing with words. It wasn’t just his persuasive narration, his varying style(s) or his enduring characters — it was the magic that happened when it all came together.
In the words of another fellow British crime writer Ian Rankin, “Once you read about Andy Dalziel he’s never forgotten.” Such was the magic of this grotesque, loathsome creation that you found yourself, to your utter shock, oddly fond of him. Of course, there was more to Dalziel than met the eye; to borrow a Gallifreyan reference, Fat Andy was bigger on the inside. He and Pascoe made an unlikely pair, and an even unlikelier friendship, which is probably the reason they will go down in history as one of the most enduring partnerships in crime fiction.
Hill was one of those authors who reaffirmed my wanting to be a writer whenever I picked up a book of his to read (or reread). Yet, almost two weeks past his death, I still feel completely inadequate about writing my tribute to him. For his brilliance is in no doubt, his contributions to crime literature need no underlining.
Reginald Hill made me want to write — and write better. He always will.
Requiescat in pace.