Dialogues of the Dead Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Dialogues of the Dead

Delacorte, Jan 2002, 23.95, 424 pp.
ISBN: 0385336004

    Mid Yorkshire County Library and the local newspaper Mid Yorkshire Gazette jointly host a literary contest. Two librarians Dick Dee and Rye Pomona sift through the myriad of entries in order to reduce the number for the final judging. Dick finds a strange entry “First Dialogue” that mirrors a murder just reported in the paper, but the submission provides more detail. Not long afterward, Rye reads the “Second Dialogue”, which also reflects with greater details the killing reported in the paper. Rye brings both entries to the attention of law enforcement official Hat Bowler, who raises them to his superior, but they mean little at this time.
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    The “Third Dialogue finally hits home to the police that there is a link between a serial killer and the literary contest contributions by a person dubbed as the “Wordman” by the librarians. Police officials Andrew Dalziel and Peter Pascoe have their work cut out for them in trying to understand the literary clues of a paronomania murderer.

    DIALOGUES OF THE DEAD proves that Reginald Hill deserves the numerous awards he has earned for his strong police procedurals. His latest British psychological suspense tale contains an exciting story line that never slows down until the final twist reveals the identity of the “Wordman”, who is actually in plain sight, but impossible to finger. The key police characters remain fresh as if this is their first investigation instead of the newest tale in what is one of the best series of the last decade.

Harriet Klausner

The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner

A series of apparently random murders are connected by "dialogues" written by the suspect. Dalziel and Pascoe, assisted by "Hat" Bowler and Sgt. Wield attempt to indentify the killer and stop the killings.One of Hill's best.
The review of this Book prepared by Vicki Hastings

Chapter Analysis of Dialogues of the Dead

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Plot & Themes

Tone of story    -   Dry-cynical    -   very humorous How difficult to spot villain?    -   Very difficult--no foreshadowing/clues    -   Challenging Time/era of story:    -   1980's-1999 What % of story relates directly to the mystery, not the subplot?    -   70%    -   90% Special suspect?    -   chronically deranged person Kind of investigator    -   police procedural, American    -   british mystery (I say!) Kid or adult book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Crime Thriller    -   Yes Murder Mystery (killer unknown)    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's    -   40's-50's


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment    -   moderately detailed references to deaths Unusual forms of death    -   perforation--swords/knives Unusual form of death?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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