In many ways this is, I suspect, a forgotten book.
Trudi Adamson has recently returned to England from the continent with her husband. She really has not much idea of what her husband Trent does for a living. Her life has always revolved around his. So when Trent is burnt to death in a freak car accident, Trudi is completely unprepared for what she will learn about his life.
She has recently re-connected with an old friend Janet, who becomes a real lifeline, getting Trudi back on her feet just when an overdose seems a good way out.
Trudi seems to have been left unprovided for, although Trent had always seemed to be well off. It is a shock to learn that Trent had recently resigned from his job without telling her. So is the arrival on her doorstep of an Austrian policeman who wants her help in nailing down the details of some of the criminal activities Trent was apparently involved in.
This seemed a very long book, so I was surprised to see that the running time is approximately 9 hours 30 mins. The illusion of great length was added to by the fact that the book is divided into 10 sections each with a number of chapters. Each section is preceded by a quote from Robbie Burns' poem "To a Mouse". These extracts emphasised the dormouse-like role that Trudi had played in her marriage to Trent.
I kept thinking as I listened that this was a different Reginald Hill from the one I know through the Dalziel & Pascoe series. I had decided that it was an early book, written more in the style of a thriller, almost cold war style, in the vein of authors like Helen MacInnes, whose books I read avidly back in the 1970s. DEATH OF A DORMOUSE is a thriller, where poor Trudi Adamson is faced with one revelation after another, and the bounds of credibility are strained almost to bursting.
But I hadn't guessed that this was originally written by Hill using a pseudonym, this time Patrick Ruell.
As Ruell he has written
- The Castle of the Demon (1971) aka The Turning of the Tide
- Red Christmas (1972)
- Death Takes the Low Road (1974) aka The Low Road
- Urn Burial (1975) aka Beyond the Bone
- The Long Kill (1986)
- Death of A Dormouse (1987)
- Dream of Darkness (1989)
- The Only Game (1991)
Did I enjoy this shadow of past styles? Well yes, I did. I've given it a rating of 4.3.
Want some more forgotten books? Try Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books
By the way, Reginald Hill has also written as Dick Morland and Charles Underhill, but I've never come across any of those books. Have you?