Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Asking for the Moon, Great Expectations

Asking for the Moon is a collection of 4 short stories about Dalziel and Pascoe.  The first one is their first meeting (although written at least a decade after A Clubbable Woman).  It's fun because Hill really matured as a writer over that decade, and the characterizations are so much sharper than they were at first, but we get to see a more callow Pascoe than Hill would write later.  As a bookend to the first story, the last story is supposed to be their last team-up, to solve a mystery set on the moon.  Pascoe is head of European Federal Intelligence (or some such thing), and when an astronaut is killed on the moon, he brings Dalziel out of retirement to solve the case.  Dalziel is great here, but I felt that Pascoe was really out of character.  I've read some novels past the time when Hill wrote this story, so it could be that he was pointing Pascoe in this direction, and then changed his mind.  Pascoe's always been fairly likable, and a guy who's doing his best to find the right solution to problems, and in this story he's presented as being rather manipulative and a bit of a jerk.  Fortunately we spend by far most of the story in Dalziel's company, and so it's still enjoyable overall.

It was a neat idea to put the stories of their first and last cases and the beginning and end of the volume, but unfortunately, it really showcases how poor the middle two are by comparison.  They were written around the time of Clubbable Woman, and the best one can say for them is that they show how much Hill grew, and why it's a good thing he avoided the short story form for a long time.

I'm almost done with Great Expectations, which I read back in 8th grade.  Unfortunately, as I write this Noam is waking up, so I'll just mention that it's a very different book once you know the twist that's coming.

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