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Good Morning, Midnight    by Reginald Hill order for
Good Morning, Midnight
by Reginald Hill
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Good Morning, Midnight is the 21st in a series starring two Yorkshire police officers - Detective Superintendant 'the Fat Man' Andy Dalziel, and Chief Inspector (DCI) Peter Pascoe. The latter is called to Moscow House, scene of an apparent suicide. The victim, Palinurus (Pal) Maciver, appears to have mimicked the method used by his father, who also killed himself. Instead of a suicide note, both left behind a poem by Emily Dickinson, key to understanding events.

Pascoe is soon put in a very uncomfortable position. After looking into the previous suicide, he discovers that the current victim accused his lovely American stepmother, Kay Kafka, of attempting to seduce him and of killing his father, and that Dalziel intervened on Kay's behalf. Pascoe wonders why. The Macivers seem to have been an extremely dysfunctional family, with the exception of the strong, enduring bond between Kay and her younger step-daughter Helen, who is delivered of twins the night of the suicide.

Reginald Hill has woven a complicated mystery, involving closed door killings separated by time but similar in every other detail. There is also a connection to the international arms trade and to ruthless power brokers and intelligence agents (whom Dalziel contemptuously calls 'funny buggers') in both Britain and the United States. Additional deaths confuse matters. There are a variety of intriguing sub-plots, and the tale is peopled with eccentric characters as only the English can provide, like Pal's aunt Lavinia ('Miss Mac') the bird lady.

As Peter Pascoe tiptoes through the case, trying to avoid Dalziel, he (and the reader with him) gains different characters' perspectives on the same events. This fascinating plot device drives a well told, complex tale, most of whose action is crammed into only a few days of investigation. If you're an Anglophile and haven't found this series yet, then you really should give it a go.

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