With modernity raising its ulgly head in Yorkshire, the grand idea of the Water Board was to flood a local valley to make a reservoir. But first they had to bulldoze the homes of Dendale, the farming town situated in the valley, and relocate the families. That was when the children began to disappear.

Andy Dalziel was a young detective in those days, and he took the case hard. Three little girls were missing in all. No bodies were ever found, and the best suspect, a strange lad name Benny Lightfoot, was held for a time, then released. Twelve years later, with one of the driest summers on record, the ruins of Dendale have begun to reappear in the reservoir. And the child-snatching has started again. Dalziel, older, wiser and more caustic, is determined to get his man this time.

Back for their first meeting this year, our Mystery Book Club tackled the ever popular Reginald Hill for their first read. Opinions varied, which created a great discussion on writing styles, character studies, themes and metaphors. There were also views expressed  on the nature of a series and how important it is to read them from the beginning, getting to know the characters and following their development and exploits, making them more interesting and believable.  There was also comment on the negative impressions left on some readers by the TV series, which affected the way they approached the book.  Some of the points made included –

“Hill handles descriptions of characters well”

“Enjoyed use of language and humour”

Plot was treated as more of a suspense drama and characters study than a mystery”

“Character of Dalziel was uncouth with much bad language”

In summing up: Opinions varied with scores out of 10 ranging from 3 to 7 with an average of 5. Worthwhile? Why not give it a try and judge for yourself. Let us know what you think.