Magazine article The Spectator

The End of Something Good

Magazine article The Spectator

The End of Something Good

Article excerpt

DEATH'S JEST-BOOK by Reginald Hill HarperCollins, 10, pp. 558, ISBN 0007123396 Two running stories are brought to a close in Deaths Jest-Book. The first was introduced in the novel in which we first met Ellie, Peter Pascoe's future wife. An Advancement of Learning, published in 1971, has that great team - politically correct Sergeant Peter Pascoe and fat, slobbish, thuggish Superintendent Andy Dalziel - investigating a series of murders in the academic institution where Ellie teaches. A pattern emerges when they come across the charismatic, psychopathic, clever young student, Franny Roote. It is not entirely clear at the end how guilty Roote is of murder. He does, however, go to a secure mental hospital before transferring to prison. Those who go to prison usually come out, and Roote knows how to use the system. He makes his next appearance in Arms and the Women, published in 2000. Somebody is threatening Ellie, now Peter's wife, and Peter suspects Roote, who has left prison and is working in a hospital as a porter. When the confrontation takes place Roote wins hands down. Then in Dialogues of the Dead, Roote makes yet another appearance. He is doing a thesis on 'Revenge and retribution in English drama', while working as a gardener. His supervisor and friend, Sam Johnson, is the fourth or fifth to die when a serial killer with literary pretensions starts murdering the local inhabitants in the middle of Yorkshire.

Now, in Death's Jest-Book Roote takes centre stage. …

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