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Spend some time with Colin Dexter & Reginald Hill this summer


I like to begin the summer with a review of a mystery series that will start you off for a summer of reading, one book after the other in a long and satisfying series.

This summer I will be spending a lot of time with Inspector Morse and his sidekick Sergeant Lewis. As well, I’m going to have on hand the rather uncouth, to say the least, Superintendent Andy Dalziel and his more educated and proper policeman partner Peter Pascoe. I find a good mystery is a cleanser between more serious novels – and they are so much fun when written by such clever men as Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.  

These are not new books – both series begin in the early 1970s and I read them all many years ago. So it is re-visiting familiar characters, re-enforced by the television series made in the intervening years.

My re-infatuation began late this past winter with my husband was wondering what to read. Nothing seemed to appeal in our substantial “to read” pile, so he went to the bookcases looking for some “comfort food” and found Colin Dexter. The paperbacks are all at the cottage but there were a few hardcovers at home. He read them one after the other, wallowing in literary pleasure.

I, of course, was jealous as I had a lot of new releases to read – and being a bit more obsessive I wanted to start with the first in each series which I would find only at the cottage.

Beginning with The Last Bus to Woodstock, published in 1975 and ending with The Remorseful Day in 1999, Colin Dexter’s mystery series was one of the most popular when I opened Parry Sound Books in 1988. Though Morse is dead, Colin Dexter is happily still alive to see all of his series being re-issued this spring.

The other most popular British mystery writer at that time was Reginald Hill who was writing his Dalziel and Pascoe series. The first in this series A Clubbable Woman was published in 1970, followed by 23 more. Sadly, Reginald Hill died in 2012 but most of his books are still in print.

In 1992 I invited two, British born, now Canadian, mystery writers to come to Parry Sound to read from their work. Eric Wright was fairly well known for his Charlie Salter series set in Toronto, but the other, Peter Robinson was just beginning to establish what would become a very very successful career as one of our best and most well known authors. His first Inspector Banks book, Gallows View, was published in 1987 and was quickly followed by a book almost every year afterwards.

Both Eric and Peter were asked who had most influenced their own work – the answer – Reginald Hill and Colin Dexter, of course.

This summer is the time to discover – or re-discover – the books by those two so very influential authors. Both the Morse series and the Dalziel series have been televised and there can really be no Morse but John Thaw who was so perfectly cast, and no Andy Dalziel but Warren Clarke. Both actors has since died, but their work lives on along with that of Reginald Hill and Colin Dexter, still bringing us such pleasure. 

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