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Child's Play (1987)

de Reginald Hill

Sèrie: Dalziel and Pascoe (9)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
400953,995 (3.84)15
Geraldine Lomas's son went missing in Italy during World War Two, but the eccentric old lady never accepted his death.Now she is dead, leaving the Lomas beer fortune to be divided between an animal rights organisation, a fascist front and a services benevolent fund. As disgruntled relatives gather by the graveside, the funeral is interrupted by a middle-aged man in an Italian suit, who falls to his knees crying, 'Mama!'Andy Dalziel is preoccupied with the illegal book one of his sergeants is running on who is to be appointed as the new Chief Constable. But when a dead Italian turns up in the police car park, Peter Pascoe and his bloated superior are plunged into an investigation that makes internal police politics look like child's play ...… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 9 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Lost Heirs & Fathers + Wield Comes Out
Review of the Grafton Books paperback edition (1988) of the Collins Crime Club hardcover original (1986)

One of Dalziel's dicta for police and public was, if you can't be honest you'd better be fucking clever.

The editor too respected Sammy's nose, but when he had digested the story he shook his head and said, 'Not our cup of tea, Sammy. I'm not going to risk getting up yon mad bugger Dalziel's hairy nostrils for anything less than a full-scale scandal. He doesn't just look like an elephant, he's got a memory like one, and we've got to live in this town.'
- excerpts from Child's Play

Yorkshire CID Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel (pronounced "dee-ELL") and assistants Detective Inspector Peter Pascoe and Detective Sergeant Wield are drawn into an inheritance case when the supposed lost-since-WorldWarII son of a recently deceased widow appears at her graveside and then later stakes claim to an inheritance, and is then found murdered. The suspects are plentiful in the more distant heirs who were ignored and in the 3 organizations who chance to benefit if all the relatives' claims can be eliminated.

The more interesting drama actually arises when circumstances force Sergeant Wield to come out and admit his sexuality to the imposing Dalziel, from whom he fears all sorts of disdain, a situation which has a twist turnaround to his amazement.

Here before him in awful visible form, was embodied all the mockery, scorn and scatological abuse which he had always feared from the police hierarchy. At least to start with Dalziel was to start with the worst.
He drew a deep breath and said, 'I want to tell you I'm a homosexual.'
'Oh aye,' said Dalziel. 'You've not just found out, have you?'
'No,' said Wield, taken aback. 'I've always known.'
'That's all right, then,' said Dalziel equably, 'I'd have been worried else that I'd not mentioned it to you.'
I'm not hearing him right, thought Wield, now utterly bewildered. Or mebbe he didn't hear me right.
'I'm gay,' he said desperately, 'I'm a queer.'
'You can be a bloody freemason for all I care,' said Dalziel, 'but it's not going to help with your promotion, if that's what you're after!'


The side-plots involve a competition for the new Chief Constable position, which Dalziel seeks to manipulate behind the scenes, Pascoe's homelife and his confessional nighttime bedside story-telling to his young child Rosie, and a young London teenager desperate to connect with his lost family in Yorkshire and who is taken in by Wield.

This is the best of the Dalziel & Pascoe series that I've read so far in my current 2022 re-read mini-binge (I don't own all of them) due to the extensive characterizations that author Hill develops throughout and the constant entertainment of Dalziel's often bizarre deductions combined with his non-PC partially-assumed persona. The ending starts with one twist and then continues with even further surprises. A really well constructed social drama and mystery combined.

See book cover at https://www.barterbooks.co.uk/catalog/images/books/rh15b.jpg
Cover image of the original Collins Crime Club hardcover edition (1986). Image sourced from Barter Books.

I re-read Child's Play due to a recent discovery of my old mystery paperbacks from the 1980s in a storage locker cleanout. I was also curious about the precedents for Mick Herron's Jackson Lamb in the Slough House espionage series in the personality of Reginald Hill's Chief Inspector Andy Dalziel, which Herron has acknowledged.

See photograph at https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FZkxI4CXkAAu2sG?format=jpg&name=large
Book haul of the early Dalziel and Pascoe paperbacks, mostly from Grafton Books in the 1980s. Image sourced from Twitter.

Trivia and Link
Child's Play was adapted for television in 1998 as Episode 2 of Series 3 of the long running TV series of Dalziel and Pascoe (1996-2007). The entire episode is posted on YouTube here, but it is formatted in a way that makes it hard to watch. ( )
  alanteder | Sep 16, 2022 |
This Dalziel and Pascoe mystery begins with the death of Geraldine Lomas, whose husband amassed a sizeable estate with a brewery. The estate goes to her son — who went missing in WW2. If he doesn’t come forward to claim the estate by 2015, it gets split between an animal rights group, a Women for Empire group, and a charitable organization. It looks like a sure bet that the organizations will get their money…until a man shows up at the funeral with every appearance of being the long-lost son.

As far as the Dalziel and Pascoe series goes, this is a pretty straightforward installment; others in the series can be elaborately constructed or be stuffed with backstory. This one, while it has several plot threads, is easy to follow. A decent read. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Apr 10, 2018 |
An old lady dies in the mid-1980s, family members mourn but then are surprised that her will leaves all her money to her son, who’s been missing in action since 1944 with no body ever found; and her fortune is some 1.5 Million Pounds. There are several family factions vying for the proceeds, not to mention the fact that the woman has split her fortunes among a pet refuge, a war child’s agency and a fascist women’s organization - to be received if her son has not come forward by 2015, when he’d be 90 years old. Deaths soon follow, and Dalziel and Pascoe have very different paths to follow to discover the truth….The 9th novel in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, this one provides a lot of nuance, thought, theatricality and sense of the British world some 30 years ago as I read it now (but times I lived in, although not in Britain). Changes in acceptance of “difference” in the social reality were important then, as they are now, and this novel based in still-mostly-white Yorkshire illuminates all of them really well. Recommended! ( )
  thefirstalicat | Nov 30, 2016 |
The one where a dotty old woman leaves her fortune to her son who died in the War. The usual quality mystery from Reginald Hill. Great characters, a convoluted but believable plot. It kept me happy on a 5 hour plane ride. ( )
  piemouth | Jun 1, 2014 |
After the death of an old woman, a son, thought to have died during the war years ago, appears out of nowhere to make claims on his inheritance but shortly after, he is found dead. Detectives Pascoe and Dalziel investigate various suspicious heirs. The story and dialogue are brisk, with occasional obscure phrasing (to me). Lots of characters, sometimes funny, very British, traditional mystery assembled into an interesting story with excellent writing. ( )
  gaylebutz | Apr 30, 2013 |
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Geraldine Lomas's son went missing in Italy during World War Two, but the eccentric old lady never accepted his death.Now she is dead, leaving the Lomas beer fortune to be divided between an animal rights organisation, a fascist front and a services benevolent fund. As disgruntled relatives gather by the graveside, the funeral is interrupted by a middle-aged man in an Italian suit, who falls to his knees crying, 'Mama!'Andy Dalziel is preoccupied with the illegal book one of his sergeants is running on who is to be appointed as the new Chief Constable. But when a dead Italian turns up in the police car park, Peter Pascoe and his bloated superior are plunged into an investigation that makes internal police politics look like child's play ...

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