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An April Shroud    by Reginald Hill order for
April Shroud
by Reginald Hill
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 1996 (1975)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

No matter how old a book is, a classic is a classic. Lucky me, I happened on an old Reginald Hill mystery. First published in 1975, it stars Superintendent Dalziel and his right hand Pascoe - both English policemen.

After attending Pascoe's wedding, Dalzeil decides a vacation is in order. It's either that or have a breakdown. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for him, while driving in the English countryside, Dalzeil runs into a situation made to order for his detecting skills. A funeral cortege on a lake, a suspicious death, a housefull of unusual characters, an amorous interlude, a missing housemaid/cook who is more than she should be, and a death or two.

Though content to let the local police handle the affair, Andy Dalzeil can't sit idly by. While not missing any drink on offer, Andy befriends some members of the family while others take a distinct dislike to him. Which does not phase our Dalzeil. He seemingly blunders on, all the while collecting information. Dalzeil is a complex character. Ostensibly a yokel, he is shrewd. While not cultured, he manages to fit into any setting, rather like the proverbial bull in the china shop. You may not approve of his actions, but you can't help admiring the power and beauty of the beast.

Reginald Hill is a wonderful writer who draws his readers into the story quickly and with precision. The reader becomes one of the bystanders with a bird's eye view of the action. Dalzeil's intuitive eye never misses a beat, and he is a delight as one sees him reach his solution. Never one to pass up a drink or a damsel, Dalzeil is not to be missed.

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