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The books behind the popular BBC show.
What is the Dalziel and Pascoe series about?
The series is about the criminal investigations led by Detective Superintendent Andrew “Andy” Dalziel and Detective Sergeant (and later Detective Inspector) Peter Pascoe, the two Yorkshire detectives featured in a series of novels by Reginald Hill (1936–2012).
The two men are not alike as Dalziel is rude, insensitive, and quite blunt, unlike Pascoe who is calm, well-mannered, and pretty polite. But they work well together, even if they don’t always get their man!
It’s not common, but the series is known for breaking from the storytelling norm of the genre by using various structural tricks, like telling the story of non-chronological order, alternating with sections from a novel supposedly written by Peter Pascoe’s wife, Ellie—or taking us to the future in a short story!
The Dalziel and Pascoe series was adapted for TV, first by ITV in 1993, then more successfully by BBC in 1996. This show lasted for 11 seasons and starred Warren Clarke as Dalziel and Colin Buchanan as Pascoe.
How to read the Dalziel and Pascoe Books in Order?
Every book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- A Clubbable Woman (1970)
- An Advancement of Learning (1971)
- Ruling Passion (1973)
- An April Shroud (1975)
- A Pinch of Snuff (1978)
- A Killing Kindness (1980)
- Deadheads (1983)
- Exit Lines (1984)
- Child’s Play (1987)
- “Auteur Theory” (short story, 1987)
- Under World (1988)
- Bones and Silence (1990)
- One Small Step (novella, 1990)
- Recalled to Life (1992)
- Pictures of Perfection (1994)
- The Wood Beyond (1996)
- Asking For The Moon (short stories, 1996)
- On Beulah Height (1998)
- Arms and the Women (1999)
- Dialogues Of The Dead (2001)
- Death’s Jest Book (2002)
- Good Morning, Midnight (2004)
- The Death of Dalziel (2007)
- A Cure for All Diseases (2008)
- Midnight Fugue (2009)
What is the plot of the Dalziel and Pascoe novels?
For more information about the books in the Dalziel and Pascoe series by Reginald Hill, you’ll find below the official synopsis for all the books:
A Clubbable Woman (1970) – Home from the rugby club after taking a nasty knock in a match, Sam Connon finds his wife more uncommunicative than usual. After passing out on his bed for a few hours, he comes downstairs to discover communication has been cut off forever – by a hole in the middle of her forehead. Andy Dalziel, a long-standing member of the club, wants to run the murder investigation along his own lines. But DS Peter Pascoe’s loyalties lie elsewhere and he has quite different ideas about how the case should proceed…
An Advancement of Learning (1971) – If Alison Girling, former principal of England’s Holm Coultram College, died in an avalanche in Austria, why has her skeleton been unearthed on campus? While no love is lost between conservative detective Andrew Dalziel and the entirety of Liberal Arts, his attention to the grim discovery must be paid. But when he and Peter Pascoe scour the ivory tower for answers, they discover that the shady faculty and creepy student body have more to bury than just one corpse. Try two—and counting. As Pascoe is sidelined by an old college flame, Dalziel’s suspicions of academia are becoming dire.
Ruling Passion (1973) – Peter Pascoe is in shock. A weekend in the country with old friends turns into a nightmare when he finds three of them dead and the missing fourth a prime suspect in the eyes of the local police. They want his cooperation, but Superintendent Dalziel needs him back in Yorkshire where a string of unsolved burglaries looks like turning nasty. As events unfold, though, the two cases seem to be getting entwined…
An April Shroud (1975) – With his partner away on a honeymoon, Yorkshire detective Andrew Dalziel tries to beat the blues by taking a vacation of his own. But after getting caught in a torrential rain and running into a funeral procession, he winds up accompanying a crowd of upper-class mourners to a crumbling country house. Dalziel isn’t known for his elegant manners, but he has bigger problems than not fitting in: The owner of the home has died under unusual circumstances, and soon more bodies are turning up. And while Dalziel finds himself undeniably attracted to the widow, he knows that she, and everyone in the family, is a suspect.
A Pinch of Snuff (1978) – Everyone knew about the kind of films they showed at the Calliope Club – once the Residents’ Association and the local Women’s Group had given them some free publicity. But when Peter Pascoe’s dentist suggests that one film in particular is more than just good clean dirty fun, the inspector begins to make a few discreet inquiries. Before they bear fruit, though, the dentist has been accused of having sex with an underage patient, the cinema has been wrecked and its elderly owner murdered. Superintendent Dalziel expects no more from professional men who watch blue films. But Pascoe has a hunch that this time Dalziel is way off target…
A Killing Kindness (1980) – When Mary Dinwoodie is found choked in a ditch following a night out with her boyfriend, a mysterious caller phones the local paper with a quotation from Hamlet. The career of the Yorkshire Choker is underway. If Superintendent Dalziel is unimpressed by the literary phone calls, he is downright angry when Sergeant Wield calls in a clairvoyant. Linguists, psychiatrists, mediums – it’s all a load of nonsense as far as he is concerned, designed to make a fool of him. And meanwhile, the Choker strikes again – and again…
Deadheads (1983) – Life is on the up for Patrick Aldermann: his Great Aunt Florence has collapsed into her rose bed leaving him Rosemont House with its splendid gardens. But when his boss, ‘Dandy’ Dick Elgood, suggests to Peter Pascoe that Aldermann is a murderer – then later retracts the accusation – the detective inspector is left with a thorny problem. Not only have the police already dug up some interesting information about Aldermann’s beautiful wife; it also appears that his rapid promotion has been helped by the convenient deaths of some of his colleagues…
Exit Lines (1984) – Three old men die on a stormy November night: one by deliberate violence, one in a road accident and one by an unknown cause. Inspector Pascoe is called in to investigate the first death, but when the dying words of the accident victim suggest that a drunken Superintendent Dalziel had been behind the wheel, the integrity of the entire Mid-Yorkshire constabulary is called into question. Helped by the bright but wayward DC Seymour, hindered by ‘Maggie’s Moron’, the half-witted Constable Hector, Peter Pascoe enters the twilight and vulnerable world of the senior citizen – to discover that the beckoning darkness at the end of the tunnel holds few comforts.
Child’s Play (1987) – When Geraldine Lomas dies, her huge fortune is left to an animal rights organization, a fascist front and a services benevolent fund. But at her funeral a middle-aged man steps forward, claiming to be her long-lost son and rightful heir. He is later found shot dead in the police car park, leaving behind a multitude of suspects. And Superintendent Dalziel and Peter Pascoe find themselves plunged into an investigation that makes most of their previous cases look like child’s play…
Auteur Theory (short story, included in the collection There are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union, 1987) – In this meta-fictional story, author Reginald Hill unleashes his rage when one of his Dalziel and Pascoe mysteries is made into a less-than-stellar movie.
Under World (1988) – Years ago, young Tracey Pedley disappeared in the woods around Burrthorpe. The close-knit mining village had its own ideas about what happened, but the police pinned it on a known child-killer who subsequently committed suicide. Now Burrthorpe comes to police attention again. A man’s body is discovered down a mine shaft and it’s clear he has been murdered. Dalziel and Pascoe’s investigation takes them to the heart of a frightened and hostile community. But could the key to the present-day investigation lie in the past when little Tracey vanished into thin air…?
Bones and Silence (1990) – Superintendent Andrew Dalziel, while drunk, has witnessed a woman being fatally shot—but her husband claims it was an accident, and everyone seems to be buying his story. His partner, Pascoe, meanwhile, is looking into chatty letters from an anonymous sender who says her resolution for the new year is to commit suicide. In the midst of all this, Dalziel is participating in a locally produced medieval mystery play—and has been cast in the role of God. Playing opposite him, as Lucifer, is the very man he suspects of murder . . .
One Small Step (1990, novella) – When astronaut Emile Lemarque takes an accidental—and televised—fatal fall from his lunar module, he stirs up more than moon dust. It’s the far-flung future, and Peter Pascoe, now UK Commissioner in the Eurofed, believes Emile has made history—as the first man to be murdered on the moon. How can Pascoe prove it was sabotage when the six-person crew of the Europa agrees it was just a tragic systems failure? By bringing his old mentor, Andrew Dalziel, out of retirement to help him. Shooting for the moon, they embark on an investigation with international consequences. This time, they must do it nearly three hundred million miles from home.
Recalled to Life (1992) – 1963. It was the year of the Profumo Scandal, the Great Train Robbery, the Kennedy Assassination – and the Mickeldore Hall Murder. The guests at the Hall that weekend included a Tory minister, a CIA officer, a British diplomat – and Cissy Kohler, a young American nanny who had come to England for love. And love kept her in England for nearly thirty years. In jail. For murder. Revisiting the case many years later, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel finds his certainty over Cissy’s guilt is shaken – a rare state of affairs. And it looks as if not only is his old boss’s reputation at stake, but his own too…
Pictures of Perfection (1994) – High in the Mid-Yorkshire Dales stands the traditional village of Enscombe, seemingly untouched by the modern world. But contemporary life is about to intrude when the disappearance of a policeman brings Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and DCI Peter Pascoe to its doors. As the detectives dig beneath the veneer of idyllic village life a new pattern emerges: of family feuds, ancient injuries, cheating and lies. And finally, as the community gathers for the traditional Squire’s Reckoning, it looks as if the simmering tensions will erupt in a bloody climax…
The Wood Beyond (1995) – When animal-rights activists uncover a long-dead uniformed body in the grounds of Wanwood House, a research facility, Dalziel is presented with a seemingly insoluble mystery. And he is further perplexed when he’s attracted to one of the campaigners – now implicated in a murderous assault. Meanwhile, the death of his grandmother has led Peter Pascoe to the battlefields of World War 1 and the enigma of who his grandfather was – and why he had to die.
Asking for the Moon (1996, short stories) – The first story explores the chilling start of the Dalziel and Pascoe partnership. In another, they investigate the fate of a woman no one has seen for a year—except her brother, who claims he is being haunted by her ghost. Then the detectives keep vigil at an isolated farmhouse, waiting to see what is making things go bump in the night. Finally, we jump in time to the twenty-first century and the partners’ last case: the first man murdered on the moon.
On Beulah Height (1998) – Fifteen years ago they moved everyone out of Dendale. They needed a new reservoir and an old community seemed a cheap price to pay. But four inhabitants of the valley could not be moved, for nobody knew where they were: three little girls who had gone missing, and the prime suspect in their disappearance, Benny Lightfoot. This was Andy Dalziel’s worst case and now he looks set to relive it. Another child goes missing in the next valley, and old fears arise as someone sprays the deadly message on Danby bridge: BENNY’S BACK!
Arms and the Women (1999) – When Ellie Pascoe finds herself under threat, her husband DCI Peter Pascoe and Superintendent Andy Dalziel assume it’s because she’s married to a cop. While they hunt down the source of the danger, Ellie heads out of town in search of a haven… only to get tangled up in a conspiracy involving Irish arms, Colombian drugs and men who will stop at nothing to achieve their ends. Dalziel eventually concludes the security services are involved, but by then it is too late. Ellie’s on her own – and must dig deep down into her reserves to survive…
Dialogues of the Dead (2002) – A man drowns. Another dies in a motorbike crash. Two accidents … yet in a pair of so-called Dialogues sent to the Mid-Yorkshire Gazette as entries in a short story competition, someone seems to be taking responsibility for the deaths. In Mid-Yorkshire CID these claims are greeted with disbelief. But when the story is leaked to television and a third indisputable murder takes place, Dalziel and Pascoe find themselves playing a game no one knows the rules of against an opponent known only as the Wordman.
Death’s Jest-Book (2003) – Ex-convict and aspiring academic, Franny Roote, has started writing enigmatic letters to DCI Peter Pascoe who immediately smells a rat. DS Edgar Wield, intervening in a suspected kidnapping, takes a vulnerable rentboy under his wing, one who is hiding an earth-shattering secret. And young DC Bowler is looking forward to a weekend away with his girlfriend – but her dreams are filled with a horror too terrifying to share. Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Dalziel, lording it over his team, is famed for his omniscience. But even he is unable to foresee the disaster towards which they are all tumbling…
Good Morning, Midnight (2004) – The locked-room suicide of Pal Maciver exactly mirrors that of his father ten years earlier. In both cases, Pal’s stepmother Kay Kafka is implicated. But Kay has a formidable champion in the form of Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel… An obstructive superior is just the first of DCI Peter Pascoe’s problems. Disentangling the tortured relations of the Maciver family is any detective’s nightmare, and the fallout from Pal’s death reaches far beyond Yorkshire. For some, it seems, the heart is a locked room where it is always midnight…
The Death of Dalziel (aka Death Comes for the Fat Man) (2007) – Caught in the blast of a huge explosion, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel lies on a hospital bed, with only a life support system and his indomitable will between him and the Great Beyond. Meanwhile, his colleague, Chief Inspector Peter Pascoe, is determined to find those responsible.
A Cure for All Diseases (US title The Price of Butcher’s Meat) (2008) – Having narrowly survived injuries sustained when he was caught in a huge explosion, Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel is still on leave from the Yorkshire police department, recuperating at the Avalon Clinic in the quaint seaside resort of Sandytown. But he soon begins to suspect that those outside the convalescent home have just as many problems as the residents.
Midnight Fugue (2009) – Andy Dalziel, back at work after a long convalescence, is finding it harder to get back in the swing than he anticipated. It doesn’t help when he manages to skip a day and sets out for a Monday morning meeting on Sunday. So when old acquaintance Commander Mick Purdy of the Met asks him to help Gina Wolfe, who has come to Mid-Yorkshire in search of a husband missing for seven years, he is glad of what seems like a harmless diversion to get his hand back in.
What should you read if you like the Dalziel and Pascoe novels?
If you like reading the Dalziel and Pascoe stories by Reginald Hill, you may be interested in the Inspector Morse series by Colin Dexter, or the Inspector Lynley series written by Elizabeth George.