the good, the bad, and the ugly
Shortly after I discovered British mystery writerand gushed about how good he is, somebody pointed me at Reginald Hill. I'm glad they did, as Hill is even better.
Hill's books are police procedurals set in Yorkshire, England; although the series as a whole is usually called the Dalziel/Pascoe series, the books generally involve a team of three detectives, with a fourth added in the more recent books.
The head of the team is the Fat Man, Andrew Dalziel. Born and bred in Yorkshire, he's risen through the ranks from bobbie on the beat to Detective Superintendant. Grating, sarcastic, and scathing by turns, and contemptuous of the la-di-da college-educated, he can be surprisingly charming when he chooses and is remarkably good at his job. His last name is pronounced "Dee-Ell"; don't get it wrong or he'll tear you a new one.
His right hand is college-educated Peter Pascoe, who during the course of the series rises from Detective Sergeant to Chief Inspector. There's considerable friction between Pascoe and Dalziel, and even more between Dalziel and Pascoe's ultra-liberal wife Ellie, but there's a grudging respect as well. Peter and Ellie Pascoe's home life is usually a major component of each story.
Then there's Detective Sergeant Edgar Wield. Wieldy is a bloodhound; given any task he carries it out carefully, methodically, and thoroughly. He's the ugliest man in several counties, to the extent that his face reveals nothing of what he's thinking; you'd hate to play poker with him. He is also, as it happens, gay, though you wouldn't think it; he's very good at compartmentalizing his life.
The later books add Detective Sergeant Novello. Novello is young, and overawed by Dalziel. While extremely attractive, she plays it down as much as she can at work; she doesn't want her sex to be an obstacle. Dalziel responds by calling her "Ivor" and piling responsibilities on her.
On top of an outstanding cast of continuing characters, Hill has a wicked tendency to lead the reader seriously astray, and great skill at weaving seemingly dozens of plot threads together into a seamless whole.
(Some of) The Dalziel/Pascoe Series
Other Books by Reginald Hill