Reginald Hill “raised the classical British mystery to new heights” when he introduced pugnacious Yorkshire Det. Inspector Andrew Dalziel and his partner, the callow Sgt. Peter Pascoe (The New York Times Book Review). Their chafing differences in education, manners, technique, and temperament made them “the most remarkable duo in the annals of crime fiction” (Toronto Star). Adapted into a long-running hit show for the BBC, the Gold Dagger Award–winning series is now available as ebooks.
Ellie Pascoe is a novelist, former campus radical, overprotective mother—and as an inspector’s wife, on high alert of suspicious behavior. When she thwarts an abduction plot, her husband, Peter, and his partner, Andrew Dalziel, assume a link to one of their past cases. An attack on Ellie’s best friend, Daphne, and a series of threatening letters from Ellie’s foiled kidnappers prove them wrong. Packed off to an isolated seaside safe place, Ellie, Daphne, and their bodyguard, DC Shirley Novello, aren’t about to lie in wait for the culprits’ next move. They’re on the offensive. No matter how calculated their plot of retaliation is, they have no idea just how desperately someone wants Ellie out of the picture. Or how insanely epic the reasons are.
Arms and the Women is the 19th book in the Dalziel and Pascoe Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
'Your pretty daughter,' she said, 'starts to hear of such things. Yet,' looking full upon her, 'you may be sure that there are men and women already on their road, who have their business to do with you, and who will do it. Of a certainty they will do it. They may be coming hundreds, thousands, of miles over the sea there; they may be close at hand now; they may be coming, for anything you know, or anything you can do to prevent it, from the vilest sweepings of this very town.'
CHARLES DICKENS: Little Dorrit
spelt from Sibyl's leaves
Eleanor Soper ...
The little patch of blue I can see through the high round window is probably the sky, but it could just as well be a piece of blue backcloth or a painted flat.
licks up the blood from the square where a riot has been ...
Distantly I hear a clatter of hooves. They're changing guard at ... I've heard them do it thousands of times. But hearing's as far as it goes. They could be mere sound effects, played on tape. You don't take anything on trust in this business. Not even your friends. Especially not them.
I who know everything knew nothing till I knew that.
what does it mean? ...
The only unquestionable reality lies in the machine.
But while reality hardly changes at all, the machine has changed a lot. It grows young as I grow old.
Shall I like my namesake grow old forever?
My namesake, I say. After so long usage, am I beginning to believe as so many of the young ones clearly believe that my name really is Sibyl? Strange that the name my parents gave me also labelled me as a woman of magic, but an enchantress as well as a seer. Morgan. Morgan Meredith. Morgan le Fay, as Gaw used to call me in the days of his enchantment.
But now my enchanting days are over. And it was Gaw who rechristened me when he saw that I had no magic to counter the sickness in my blood.
A wise man hides his mistakes in plain sight, then over long time slowly corrects them.
My dear old friend Gawain Clovis Sempernel is a wise man. No one would deny it. Not if they've any sense.
Aroynt thee, hag. Ripeness is all. And I have work to do.
When I first took on my sacred office, the machine loomed monumentally, like a Victorian family tomb. Thirty years on, it's smaller than an infant's casket, leaving plenty of room on the narrow tabletop for my flask and mug, and also my inhaler and pill dispenser, though generally I keep these hidden. Sounds silly when you're in a wheelchair, but I was brought up to believe you don't advertise your frailties.
That's a lesson a lot of folk never learn, which is why so many of them end up frozen in my electronic casket where there's always room for plenty more.
If I wanted I could ask it to tell me exactly how many people had passed through my hands, or rather my fingertips, for that's the closest I get to actually handling people. But I don't bother. This isn't about statistics, this is about individuals.
Eleanor Soper ...
My casket is also an incubator. Here they make their first appearance, often looking completely helpless and harmless. But, oh, how quickly they grow, and I oversee their progress with an almost parental pride as their details accumulate and their files fatten out.
Some live up to their promise. (By which I mean threat!)
Others, apparently, change direction completely. Such converts I always regard with grave suspicion, even if — especially if — they make it to the very top. They're either faking it, in which case we're ready for them. Or they're genuine, which means the contents of these files could be a serious embarrassment.
It's always nice to know you can embarrass your masters.
But the great majority merely fade away, become ghosts of their vibrant young selves.
married a cop, had a kid, didn't march any more ...
what was it for?
Let's take a look at your protesting career, Eleanor Pascoe nee Soper.
Amnesty — member, non-active; Anti-Fascist Action — lapsed; Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament — lapsed; Gay Rights — lapsed; Graduates Against God — lapsed; Greenpeace — member, non-active; Labour Party — member, non-active; Liberata Trust — member, active; Quis Custodiet? — lapsed; Third World United — lapsed; Women's Rights Action Group — lapsed; World Socialist Alliance — lapsed.
Once you squawked so loud in your incubator, Eleanor, now you rest so quiet.
Gaw Sempernel (let no dog bark) says there is nothing so suspicious as silence. Must have watched a lot of cowboy films in his youth. It's quiet out there, Gaw ... too damn quiet!
Certainly neither sound nor silence gets you out of my casket. Once inside, there you stay forever. And if your presence is ever needed, you can be conjured up in a trice, like the wraiths of the classical underworld, which, as my classically educated Gawain likes to remind me, were summoned to appear and to speak by the smell and the taste of fresh blood.
For machines may change, and fashions change, and human flesh, God help us, changes most inevitably of all.
But some people, my people, have at their hearts something which refuses to change, despite all that life shows them by way of contra — evidence. Perhaps it is a genetic weakness. Certainly, once established, like the common cold, no one has yet found a way of eradicating it.
Which is why I, practising what I preach, have demonstrated to the world (or that section of it which shares this remote and lonely building in the heart of this populous city), that there is life after death by staying in gainful employment all these years, Sibyl the Sibyl, sitting here in my solitary cell, hung high in my lonely cage, laying the bodies out neatly in my electronic casket, and, when necessary, conjuring them back to life.
My poor benighted ghosts scenting blood once more ...
Like Eleanor Soper.
All these looney people, where do they all come from?
All these looney people, where do they all belong?
who's that knocking at my door?
... why should it, whenThe proper study of mendacity is MEN?
It was a dark and stormy night.
Now, why has that gone down in the annals as the archetype of the rotten opening? she wondered. It's not much different from It was a bright cold day in April, though, fair do's, the bit about the clocks striking thirteen grabs the attention. Or how about There was no possibility of taking a walk that day, with all the stuff about the weather that follows? And even Homer's jam-packed with meteorology. OK, so what follows in every case is a lot better book than Paul Clifford, but even if we stick to the same author, surely the dark and stormy stuff isn't in the same league as the opening of The Last Days of Pompeii (which, interestingly, I found on Andy Dalziel's bedside table when I used a search for the loo as an excuse to do a bit of nebbing! Riddle me that, my Trinity scholar!).
How does it go? 'Ho, Diomed, well met! Do you sup with Glaucus tonight?' said a young man of small stature, who wore his tunic in the loose and effeminate folds which proved him to be a gentleman and a coxcomb. Now that is positively risible, while the dark and stormy night is simply a clich which, like all cliches, was at its creation bright new coin.
So up yours, all you superior bastards who on the media chat shows. I'm sticking with it!
It was a dark and stormy night. The wind was blowing off the sea and the guard commander bowed into it with his cloak wrapped around his face as he left the shelter of the grove and began to clamber up to the headland.
The darkness was deep but not total. There was salt and spume in the wind giving it a ghostly visibility, and now a huge flock of white sea birds riding the blast went screeching by only a few feet over his head.
The superstitious fools huddled round their fires in the camp below would probably take them as an omen and argue over which god was telling them what and pour out enough libations to get the whole of Olympus pissed. But the commander didn't even flinch.
As he neared the crest of the headland, he screwed up his eyes and peered ahead, looking for a darker outline against the black sky which should show where the wind wrapped itself around the sentry. There 'd been grumblings among the weary crewmen when he'd insisted on posting a full contingent of perimeter guards. In the forty-eight hours since they made landfall, they'd found no sign of human habitation, and with the storm which had made them run for shelter blowing as hard as ever, the threat of a seaborne attack seemed negligible. With the democracy of shared hardship, they'd even appealed over his head to the Prince.
'So you feel safe?' he'd said. 'Is that more safe or less safe than when you saw the Greek ships sail away?'
That had shut them up. But the commander had resolved to make the rounds himself to check that none of the posted sentries, feeling secure in the pseudo-isolation of the storm, had opted for comfort rather than watch.
And it seemed his distrust was justified. His keen gaze found no sign of any human figure on the skyline. Then a small movement at ground level caught his straining eyes. Cautiously he advanced. The movement again. And now he could make out the figure of a man stretched out on his stomach right at the cliff's edge.
Silently he drew his sword and moved closer. If the idle bastard had fallen asleep he was in for a painful reveille. But when he was only a pace away, his foot kicked a stone and the sentry's head turned and their eyes met.
Far from showing alarm, the man looked relieved. He laid a finger over his lips, then motioned to the commander to join him prostrate.
When they were side by side, the sentry put his mouth to his ear and said, 'I think there's someone down there, Commander.'
It didn't seem likely, but this was a battle-scarred veteran who'd spent ten years patrolling the Wall, not some fresh-faced kid who saw a bear in every bush.
Cautiously he wriggled forward till his head was over the edge and looked down.
He knew from memory that the rocky cliff fell sheer for at least eighty feet down to a tiny shingly cove, but now it was like looking into hellmouth, where Pyriphlegethon's burning waves drive their phosphorescent crests deep into the darkness of woeful Acheron.
Nothing could live down there, nothing that still had dependence on light and air anyway, and he was moving back to give the sentry a tongue-lashing when suddenly the wind tore a huge hole in the cloud cover and a full moon lit up the scene like a thousand lanterns.
Now he saw, though he could hardly believe what he saw.
The waves had momentarily retreated to reveal the figure of a man crawling out of the sea. Then the gale sent its next wall of water rushing forward and the figure was buried beneath it. Impossible to survive, he thought. But when the sea receded, it was still there, hands and feet dug deep into the shingle. And in the few seconds of respite given by the withdrawing waters, the man scrambled forward another couple of feet before sinking his anchors once again.
Sometimes the suction of the retreating waves was too strong, or his anchorage was too shallow, and the recumbent body was drawn back the full length of its advance. But always when it seemed certain that the ocean must have driven deep into his lungs, or the razor-edged shingle must have ripped his naked chest wide open, the figure pushed itself forward once more.
'He'll never make it,' said the sentry with utter assurance.
The guard commander watched a little while longer then said, 'Six to four he does. In gold.'
The veteran looked down at the sea which now seemed to be clutching at the body on the beach with a supernatural fury. It looked like a sure-fire bet, but he had a lot of respect for the commander's judgement.
'Silver,' he compromised.
They settled to watch.
It took another half-hour for the commander to win his bet, but finally the crawling man had dragged himself right up to the foot of the cliff where a couple of huge boulders resting on the beach formed a protective wall against which the sea dashed its mountainous missiles in vain. For a while he lay there, still immersed in water from time to time, but no longer at risk of being either beaten flat or dragged back into the depths. Then, just when the sentry was hoping he might claim victory in the bet by reason of the man's death, he sat upright.
'That sod must be made of bronze and bear hide,' said the sentry with reluctant admiration. 'What the fuck's he doing now?'
For the figure on the beach had pushed himself to his feet, and as the waters drew back, he emerged from his rocky refuge and, to the observers' amazement, began a kind of lumbering dance, following the receding waves, then backpedalling like mad as they drove forward once more. And all the while he was gesticulating, sometimes putting his left hand in the crook of his right elbow and thrusting his right fist into the air, sometimes putting both his thumbs into his mouth, then pulling them out with great force and stabbing his forefingers seawards, and shouting.
'I've seen that before,' said the sentry. 'That's what them bastards used to do under the Wall.'
'Hush! I'm trying to hear what he's saying, 'said the commander.
As if in response, the wind fell for a moment and the sea drew back to its furthest point yet, still pursued by the dancing man whose shouts now drifted clearly up the cliff face.
'Up yours, old man!' he yelled. 'Call yourself earthshaker? You couldn't shake your dick at a pisspot! So what are you going to do now, you watery old git? Ha ha! Right up yours!'
'You're right. He's a Greek,' said the commander.
'Better still, he's a dead Greek,' said the veteran with some satisfaction.
For in his growing boldness, the dancing man had allowed himself to be lured far away from his protective wall by this moment of comparative calm, so when the ocean suddenly exploded before him, he had no hope of getting back to safety. An avalanche of water far greater than anything before descended on him, driving him to the ground, then burying him deep. And at the same time the renewed fury of the wind sewed up the rent in the cloud and darkness fell.
'If he was talking to who I think he was talking to, he was a right idiot,' said the sentry piously. 'You gotta give the gods respect else they'll chew you up and spit you out.'
The commander smiled.
'Let's see,' he said.
They didn't have long to wait. As though the storm also wanted to look at the results of its latest onslaught, it tore aside the clouds once more.
'Well, bull my bollocks and call me Zeus!' exclaimed the sentry, his recent piety completely forgotten.
There he was again, almost back where he'd started but still alive. Once more he started to struggle back over the beach. Only now as the waves retreated, they didn't leave any area of visible shingle but a foot or so of water. This made the anchoring process much more difficult, but at the same time, by permitting the man to take a couple of swimming strokes with his muscular arms, it speeded his return to the safety of the boulders. Here he squatted, his head slumped on his broad chest which rose and fell as he drew in great breaths of damp air.
'He's game,' said the sentry grudgingly. 'Got to give him that. But he's not out of trouble yet. How high do you reckon the tide comes in here, Commander?'
'Normally? I think it would just about reach the bottom of the cliff, a foot up at its highest. But this isn't normal. I don't know whether it's a very angry god or just very bad weather, but I'd say the way this wind's blowing the sea in, it will be thirty feet up the cliff face in an hour.'
'So that really is it,' said the sentry with some satisfaction.
'Not necessarily. He can climb.'
'Up that rock face? Get on! It's smooth and it's sheer and there's an overhang at the top. I wouldn't fancy my chances there at my peak on a fine day, and that old bugger must be completely knackered.'
'Double or quits on what you owe?' said the commander casually.
The sentry turned his head to look at the officer's profile, but it was as blank and unreadable as the cliff face, and not a lot more attractive either.
Then he looked down. The man was up to his knees in water already.
'Done,' said the sentry.
Below, the Greek was examining the cliff face. His features were undiscernible through a heavy tangle of beard, but even at this distance they could see the eyes shining brightly in the reflection of the moonlight. He rubbed his hands vigorously against the remnants of his robe in what had to be a vain attempt to get them dry, then he reached up and began to climb.
He got about three feet above the water level before he lost his grip and slithered back down. Three more times he tried, three more times he fell. And each time he hit the water, it was higher than before.
'Looks like we're quits, Commander,' said the sentry.
'What's the silly old sod doing now?'(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Arms and the Women"
Copyright © 1999 Estate of Reginald Hill.
Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Probably my least favorite Dalziel and Pascoe. Large sections of the book are the text of a novel being written by Ellie Pascoe, which I found annoying. When a kidnapping attempt is made on Peter Pascoe's wife, investigations into Pascoe's enemies turn up nothing; the key to the mystery is in Ellie's political involvements. The finale is over-the-top.
This is not really a collection of short stories, it is rather a novelette, 'Pascoe's Ghost', and three short pieces.The aforementioned, at 112 pages looks to me like the guts of a novel that refused to proceed to its desired ending. In this pared down version, it however makes an excellent read.Coming on to the smaller offerings, we are treated to the first meeting of Dalziel and Pascoe and a 'ghost story' from Mr. Dalziel: both proving Mr. Hill to be one of those rare writers that can really do short stories as well as they can the novel. The last piece is more questionable. It was produced in 1990, to celebrate twenty years of our crime fighting duo and, as Mr hill admits in his introduction, is a flight of fantasy. The story is set in 2010 (now alarmingly close!) on a European moon base. Dalziel has retired and Pascoe is Chief of Security. The story is really that of the people involved and, as such, is up to the author's usual high standard: where I am less sure of its merit, is in the fact that it very much reminds us that these are not real people. Of course, we know that but, in the course of so many novels, they become, in some sense, friends and it is almost like being forced to see that a good friend is false.Dispite this small gripe, I enjoyed this book and must hope that my friends continue to keep Wetherton safe for many years to come.
I have read and greatly enjoyed each one of the talented Reginald Hill's [aka Patrick Ruell] books. Like my other favorite authors [Ruth Rendell, aka Barbara Vine, P. D. James, and S. T. Haymon] Mr. Hill's mystery novels are entertaining, exciting, and quite unpredictable---everything a book lover seeks, but does not always find. Do yourselves a favor, and locate all of Mr. Hill's books and read them in order---this is the best way to fully appreciate the lives of his characters as they unfold.