Harper Collins, Mar 2008
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill
To begin with, I have one confession and one warning. Reginald Hill is my
absolute favourite author. I could read his shopping list and rave about
it, so I make no pretence here of objectivity.
Now the warning. If you have yet to read Reginald Hill’s DEATH OF DALZIEL
(published in the U.S.A. under the title DEATH COMES FOR THE FAT MAN) then
stop right now. Don’t read any further, because it is impossible to write
a review of A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES without creating a spoiler for Hill’s
previous Dalziel and Pascoe novel.
That sorted, on to A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES, which opens with Andy Dalziel
reluctantly languishing in a convalescent home after his brush with death
in a bomb blast. Sitting around doing nothing and being poked and prodded
by all and sundry on the nursing staff doesn’t sit well with Andy. He’s
tetchy and dying for a cleansing ale at a pub. As part of his recovery
therapy Andy has been given a little hand held recorder in which he is
expected to record his thoughts. At first he scoffs at the idea, but then
somehow he finds himself talking to this contraption which he has
Into the town comes Charlotte Heywood, a newly graduated psychologist who
is thinking of writing a paper about the psychology of alternative
therapies. There’s no shortage of practitioners around Sandytown. Andy
discovers Charlotte is the daughter of an old rugby foe and the two become
There is a lot of development being planned for Sandytown, not all of it
popular. When one of the developers is found murdered, Peter Pascoe and
the team are called in. Andy isn’t used to having to sit on the sidelines
of an investigation as he has no official status, how can he not become
In the dedication of the book Reginald Hill wrote in part: “To Janeites
everywhere”. If you’ve read Jane Austen you’ll quickly discover why. If
you haven’t (like me) then it will sail over your head and it doesn’t
really matter anyway. I won’t give away the reason for the dedication. It
will be an extra layer for Austen fans.
The story is told from the point of view of a number of characters. First
and foremost is Dalziel’s conversations with “Mildred”. Charlotte’s
perspective takes the form of long, chatty (and poorly spelled) emails to
her sister in Africa. Various members of the investigation team, Pascoe,
Wield, Novello and Bowler also get a look-in from their perspectives.
A CURE FOR ALL DISEASES also sees a shift in the dynamics of the
relationship between Dalziel and Pascoe. Pascoe feels he is ready to
spread his wings without Dalziel looking over his shoulder. With Pascoe in
charge, Sergeant Wield is seeing a change in him. He thinks Pascoe is
starting to exhibit traits that are decidedly Dalzielesque!
There are some who found the emails a distraction with the poor spelling
and grammar. I didn’t. I enjoyed the quirkiness of them. A CURE FOR ALL
DISEASES is Reginald Hill’s twenty-third Dalziel and Pascoe novel and it
is a testimony to his skill as a writer that number twenty-three is as
fresh and compelling as all his others.
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