16 January 2012

R.I.P. Reginald Hill

Reginald Hill, one of my favorite crime novelist died Thursday 12 January 2012 at the age of 75.

I loved his police procedural series featuring Andy Dalziel and Peter Pascoe. According to his obituary in The Guardian
On the publication of the 21st Dalziel and Pascoe novel in 2007, an interviewer asked Reginald Hill if this was his 48th published novel to date. Hill replied: "That sounds very reasonable. I counted religiously till I got to 10, then in a more secular fashion till I got to 20, and after that I lost interest in keeping a tally. I mean, if 20 doesn't mean you're a real writer, then what number does?"

Many members of the literary community spoke of the self-effacing author with fondness.

Ian Rankin
I didn't read crime fiction until I was in my 20s,...Hill was one of the first British writers I read. His plotting was elegant and his characters were larger than life – once you read about Andy Dalziel he's never forgotten. I daresay there are shadings of him in my Inspector Rebus – they're both bolshie and maverick and they don't look after themselves.

Val McDermid:
Reg was one of my first friends in the world of crime writing and I counted myself lucky to know him. He was as erudite and witty in the flesh as he was in his brilliant books and there was as much pleasure in his company than in that of any of his creations.

I read somewhere, though I'm unable to locate it now, that Hill wrote Arms and the Women (which is subtibled The Elliad) as a response to her character being written out of the BBC series. Though this story is likely apocryphal, if anyone comes across it, please let me know.

As a Janeite, I was especially impressed by The Price of Butcher's Meat basing the characters and the structure of the novel on Jane Austen's unfinished novel Sanditon.

The Guardian's obituary concluded with these lines:
All who met him thought of him as a gentle man as well as a proper gentleman. Those who knew him well appreciated his generosity of spirit, especially to new writers, and his sometimes wicked sense of humour.

Although I never met him, this is always what I thought of him, and how I will remember him.


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