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A Cure for All Diseases - Reginald Hill

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Author: Reginald Hill / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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      13.03.2013 15:18
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      Will split opinion I suspect

      A cure for all diseases is a Dalziel and Pascoe novel written by Reginald Hill and is best described as odd, this was my first Dalziel and Pascoe novel and I'm not sure I'm going to read another. My mum loves detective fiction and gave me a huge collection of detective novels and I've been slowly wading through them between books from other genre's (I tend to alternate genre's rather than just read one type for more than 2 books in succession). Anyway one of the books was a cure for all diseases by Reginald Hill and as I always enjoyed the Dalziel and Pascoe BBC programme I decided to make it my next detective fiction novel. This was my first novel by Reginald Hill and is a decidedly odd affair; the book tells the story of Dalziel's stay at Sandy Town's retreat after overcoming a terrorist explosion in a previous novel.

      This book is written in a very strange manner, the book is split between a normal third person perspective (but only after the first murder), a rambling musings by Dalziel about his attempts to overcome his injuries from the explosion and a series of emails from Charlotte Heywood the psychologist at Dalziel's recuperation home. The ramblings take up a full third of the novel and are used as a prelude to the murder; the musings of Dalziel tend to cover his thoughts on the local villains of the town and the runners of the home whereas Charlotte's are all about the local gentry who own the home. The emails are in written with terrible grammar and try to give a sense of how a young girl (~22) views the various owners of the recuperation home she is working in. The grammar does grate after a while and the emails are used for too long in the novel, it would have been fine for a 50-75 page introduction but the emails and musings of Dalziel stretch to near 200 pages. The constant bad grammar from a woman with a degree in psychology is a bit unlikely, the worst and most annoying is the constant use of the word shed rather than she'd. Surely anyone who went to a reasonable school and managed enough qualifications would know the correct use of grammar in such words as shed, wont, hed etc is a bit ridiculous.

      My view is that I almost gave up on the story at around page 200, ground down by the constant bad grammar and lack of anything approaching a murder to try and solve but I persevered and finally started to enjoy the book. The book tells the story of the murder of one of the owners of the home; clearly Charlotte's emails are going to have a germ of truth in there that will ultimately unmask the killer. Only when Pascoe arrives on the scene does the novel become more like a normal detective novel, not only does it reduce the number of pages covering emails between Charlotte and her sister and gives Dalziel a chance to grind against his usual partner in crime.

      A strange novel in many ways, I suspect Reginald Hill is trying something novel here and rather got carried away with the text speak and the intolerable English used in emails all over the world. Personally I find writing via email is as I'd write this review i.e., good English and even texting it's almost as easy to write the proper word as the text version. I do wonder about some of the methods used by authors, I think they assume everyone reading one of their latter novels must be aware of their writing style, characters and if they write in a completely different manner than well it's an experiment and nothing else. However, if that novel is the first one you've read then you do start to wonder if the author is either over-rated or a complete nutter. I suspect I will read another Dalziel and Pascoe novel but do suspect I'll have a quick look inside just to check that the books not written in crazy speak.
      I did like the title though and what it really means!!

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