Review: On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill

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Harper, 2014. Paperback edition. First published in Great Britain by Harper Collins Publishers, 1998. ISBN: 978-0-00-731317-4. 514 pages.

Featured imageFifteen years ago, in order to built a dam, the inhabitants of Dendale had to leave their homes and the land they were working. The whole population was relocated in the village of Danby at a nearby valley. The valley of Dendale was flooded. Under the waters were left the clues, if any, of the crimes that happened a few months before, concerning the disappearance of three little girls. A case that remains unresolved. Benny Lightfoot, the prime suspect, also vanished and was never seen again. Now, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe, have just arrived to Danby to investigate the case of another little girl that has gone missing. Upon their arrival, they have seen a message painted on a wall that says Benny’s Back. To make matters worse everyone remembers that was Dalziel himself who was in charge of the case about the three missing girls; Pascoe’s daughter becomes seriously ill and there are fears for her life; A local soprano is determined to sing her own translation of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder at the community music festival; And, the severe drought of that year, has set back the waters of the reservoir allowing to see the ruins of the old village.

A standalone, The Woodcutter (Harper Collins Publishers,2010) was my first encounter with Reginald Hill. Since then I have read A Clubbable Woman, (Harper Collins Publishers, 1970) the first novel in the series featuring Dalziel & Pascoe. On Beulah Height (Harper Collins Publishers 1998)  is the seventeenth instalment in the series. Ever since I read the review of Norman Price at Celebrating Reginald Hill here, I was looking forward to reading it. It has not disappointed me.

Compared to the first book in the series, this is a much more complicated story, with different subplots and a wide range of characters that, in my opinion, are much better defined. The novel, narrated from multiple points of views, is wonderfully written. The result is an absorbing and highly rewarding read that revolves around the sense of loss and the feeling of guilt. A tragic tale that captures very well the atmosphere and the manner of speaking of the place in which the action unfolds. It can be read as a standalone book. A solid read that I strongly recommend.

My rating: A (I loved it)

On Beulah Height has been reviewed at Celebrating Reginald Hill (Norman), Reviewing the evidence (Angel L. Soto), Lady Fancifull and January Magazine

Reginald Hill obituary by Mike Ripley


Random House

On Beulah Height de Reginald Hill

Hace quince años, con el fin de construir una presa, los habitantes de Dendale tuvieron que abandonar sus casas y las tierras que trabajaban. Toda la población fue reubicada en el pueblo de Danby en un valle cercano. El valle de Dendale fue inundado. Bajo las aguas quedaron las pistas, si las hubo, de los crímenes que ocurrieron unos meses antes, en relación con la desaparición de tres niñas. Un caso que sigue sin resolverse. Benny Lightfoot, el principal sospechoso, también desapareció y nunca más fue visto. Ahora, el superintendente Andy Dalziel y el inspector jefe Peter Pascoe, acaban de llegar a Danby para investigar el caso de otra niña que ha desaparecido. A su llegada, han visto un mensaje pintado en una pared que dice Benny ha regresado. Por si fuera poco todo el mundo recuerda que fue el propio Dalziel quien estuvo a cargo del caso de las tres chicas desaparecidas; La hija de Pascoe se enferma gravemente y se teme por su vida; Una soprano local está decidida a cantar su propia traducción de Kindertotenlieder de Mahler en el festival de música de la comunidad; Y, la grave sequía de ese año, ha hecho retroceder las aguas del embalse permitiendo ver las ruinas de la antigua aldea.

Un libro independiente, The Woodcutter (Harper Collins Publishers,2010), fue mi primer encuentro con Reginald Hill. Desde entonces he leído A Clubbable Woman (Harper Collins Publishers, 1970), la primera novela de la serie protagonizada`por Dalziel y Pascoe. On Beulah Height (Harper Collins Publishers 1998) es la decimoséptima entrega de la serie. Desde que leí la reseña de Norman Price en el blog Celebrating Reginald Hill, me quedé con ganas de leerla. No me ha decepcionado.

En comparación con el primer libro de la serie, se trata de una historia mucho más compleja, con diferentes argumentos secundarios y una amplia gama de personajes que, en mi opinión, están mucho mejor definidos. La novela, narrada desde múltiples puntos de vista, está maravillosamente escrita. El resultado es una lectura absorbente y muy gratificante que gira en torno a la sensación de pérdida y al sentimiento de culpa. Una trágica historia que capta muy bien el ambiente y la manera de hablar del lugar en el que se desarrolla la acción. Se puede leer como un libro independiente. Una lectura sólida que recomiendo encarecidamente.

Mi calificación: A (Me encantó)

18 thoughts on “Review: On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill”

  1. This is probably my favourite Dalziel & Pascoe novel, so pleased you enjoyed it! It has all the trademark banter between the two, but a greater sense of tragedy, as you so rightly point out!

  2. Good call. I love that book. As usual, I have to mention that Hill was born in my home town, Hartlepool. Sharp got out of there, I think, though.

  3. Oh I am so pleased you enjoyed this one so much. I think it is my favourite of all the Daziel and Pascoe stories although there are many that I would happily re-read. I love your review as it reminded me how well Hill writes. He is particularly good at rooting his novel in a particular place and giving enough detail that the reader can easily transport themselves to a time and place.

  4. Like Cleopatra and Marina Sofia, this is one of my favourite Dalziel and Pascoe books, with its haunting plot, and feel for the drowned world. Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. I’m another for whom this one is the favourite Dalziel and Pascoe – in fact, I think it’s probably my favourite crime novel of all. So I’m really delighted to hear that you enjoyed it!

  6. Marina Sofia, Paul, Cleo, Moira, FictionFan, thank you all very much for taking your time to comment here. Am glad to find out that On Beulah Height is your favourite Dalziel & Pascoe, if not even one of your favourite crime novels. For me it’s certainly one of those books that is worth a second reading. .

  7. Thanks very much for the mention Jose Ignacio. Looking back I think that was one of my better posts, but On Beulah Height was a superb book. I am glad you enjoyed it and reading your post has encouraged me to read those Dalziel & Pascoe books I haven’t got to yet.

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