Friday’s Forgotten Book: A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill (1970)

In a post that I did last year regarding the series that I wanted to begin reading, I mentioned Reginald Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe series. It had been on my reading radar for several years and I had even picked up their first book a couple of years back at a book fair. From the shelves, it’d teasingly tempt me. So this year, I reached out and picked it up. Did it live up to my expectations?

Sam Connon, once a rugby hopeful for England before an ankle injury robbed him of that chance, returns home one day from a rough local match in which he was hit viciously on the head. Delayed because of the injury, his dizzying spells, and an encouter with the traffic policemen, Connon returns home to find his wife so miffed with him that she doesn’t acknowledge his presence but rather continues to watch TV. He staggers upstairs and collapses unconcious on the bed. When he wakes up and goes down, he finds his wife dead in the high-backed chair.

Enter the two detectives, the rather crude Dalziel and the polished university-educated Pascoe. Who could have wanted Mary Connon, who was once the belle of the Rugby club, dead? Her husband? The new belle of the club? Her jealous husband? As the investigators dig deep, they find that there were quite a few people ready to murder Mary. After all, she was a most ‘clubbable woman’.

I love Police Procedurals which showcase the chemistry between the members of the police team. The vulgar, itchy, scratching Dalziel, at first, was a little too crude for my liking (and I thought the author was overdoing things in order to present a contrasting set of detectives) but he had grown most likeable by the end of the book, especially when he talked of his wife leaving him. Pascoe, saddled with such a senior, seemed a milk-sop though he too grew on me. One thing that both had in common, however, were the lascivious thoughts that crossed their minds when they came in contact with the women of the case. In fact, there is a lot of objectification of women through out the novel. And that’s why I am so surprised that I enjoyed a book that was full of – sweaty, boozing, middle-aged men, occupied with either a game or a woman – so much. I am very much looking forward to reading the next in the series.

Have you read the book? Did you enjoy it or did you find it objectionable?

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First Line: “He’s all right….”

Publication Details: London: Harper, 2013

First Published: 1970

Series: Dalziel and Pascoe #1

Pages: 313

Other Opinions: Cleopatra Loves Books, Fiction Fan’s Book Reviews, Iain’s Leisure Reading, Reviewing the Evidence, Tipping My Fedora

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Submitted for Friday’s Forgotten Books at Sweet Freedom.

10 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Book: A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill (1970)

  1. It has been a while since I read this book, so I don’t remember specifically much about it. But I have read 12 of the books in the long Dalziel & Pascoe series, and I think Reginald Hill’s writing is superb, so I probably liked this book. Later books in the series address issues such as treatment of women and sexual orientation. The series is not perfect and some of the recurring characters irritate me (but not the two main character), but a series well worth reading.

    I do want to finish the series someday and I have all the books, but it will take a while at my current pace.

    That cover, however, is appalling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lucky, Tracy that you have all the books in the series. I really liked this book and am keen to read the others. That cover is really atrocious, isn’t it? But I thought that it was also an accurate representation of what is between the covers and that’s why I am so surprised that I liked the book as much as I did😅

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  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Neeru! I think it’s an excellent series with some very well drawn characters. In my opinion, the series gets better as it goes on, so I do hope you’ll get the chance to read more of it.

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  3. Hill’s golden period begins almost two decades later, with Under World. I would recommend jumping forward to there. While there are a couple of good books (An Advancement of Learning, An April Shroud, Exit Lines), they’re not comparable to Recalled to Life, Pictures of Perfection, The Wood Beyond, On Beulah Height, or Dialogues of the Dead.

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  4. Thanks Nick. It is good to hear that there are some solid reads waiting for me. However, I am interested in seeing how the relationship develops b/w the two principal characters and so would really like to read it in order.

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  5. I love this series – my favourite police procedural series of all time, in fact. I’ve been re-reading them in order recently and have been quite surprised at the objectification of women in the very early ones – that fades out quite quickly as the series progresses, and with the introduction of a very good female recurring character in about the third book. I hope you find time to read more – like Margot, I think this is a series that went from strength to strength. Thanks for the link!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pleasure to provide a link, FF. Glad to know that the portrayal of women improves as the series goes on. Read somewhere that the author hadn’t thought of a series when he wrote this but since the detectives became popular he decided to turn it into a series. I will definitely be reading more of the series.

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