#1976 Club: Another Death in Venice by Reginald Hill

Since the time I finished my first Reginald Hill at the beginning of the year, I had been planning to read another book of his but somehow never got round to it. The 1976 book club, hosted by Simon @ Stuck in a Book and Karen @ Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings, has now given me the opportunity to read another Hill though a stand-alone this time: Another Death in Venice.

Sarah and Michael, an English couple, are vacationing in Rimini, Italy from where they plan to proceed to Venice. Michael teaches cinema at a polytechnic and has the habit of passing sexist and racist remarks. I would hate such a person in real life but in the book, I enjoyed his acerbic wit immensely. Also to be noted is that he passes such remarks in order to get a rise out of his wife who is what I would categorise as a woolly socialist. She is on a number of social-service committees and has the unfortunate habit of collecting people who she feels have been dealt a bad hand.

Also holidaying are wife-beater Wilf and his gypsy-wig wearing wife,Wendy, and the solid-wall-of-muscles Bob Lovelace and his diminutive wife, Molly. As they are also English, the three couples are thrown together much to Michael’s chagrin who doesn’t want to be involved with other people while Sarah is always inviting them. The antics of the English under the Italian sun were so engrossing that half of the novel had passed before I realised that there had been no death that the title promised.

But then death did occur and the suspicion fell on Michael. Is he guilty or is it one amongst the others? And what role do two homeless vagrants, whom Sarah had picked up, have to play in all this death drama?

The novel starts brilliantly and I had rollicking fun till the last quarter of the novel when everything started sliding south. The comic situations became repetitive and the murder mystery was a total let-down with a completely unsatisfying end.

However, more than the unsatisfying last part what I regret most of all is that Reginald Hill never wrote about the British Raj: on the Sahibs wearing their sola topees and venturing out under the Indian sun carrying the white man’s burden and their memsahibs, burra or otherwise, sipping their gin and lime and calling out “Koi hai? while the Indians pulled the punkah. That colonial engagement needs a chronicler who could declare: “The function of natives had always been to eat missionaries”.


First Line: During the night, the plump woman in the gipsy wig cried again in the next bedroom.

Publication Details: NY: Signet, 1987

First Published: 1976

Pages: 221

Source: Open Library

Other books read of the same author: A Clubbable Woman

14 thoughts on “#1976 Club: Another Death in Venice by Reginald Hill

  1. I knew that Reginald Hill had written standalone novels under the pseudonym Patrick Ruell and I may have read a couple of those in the past, but I did not realize he had written so many standalone novels under his own name. He has written a few that were spy fiction, which I haven’t read yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tracy, till a few weeks back I had no idea that he had a pseudonym too. I have heard good things about his books under the Patrick Ruell name and intend to read them. Had no idea he had written spy fiction also.


  2. I’ve only read the Dalziell and Pascoe (he must have made a tidy sum out of these. They seemed to have many iterations as a TV series) I read them many years ago, but I don’t remember them as being madly sexist or racist. But perhaps after Dorothy L Sayers etc …I tried to reread her books, which I loved years ago, and the snobbery was quite unbearable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to the blog. I started reading him only this year when I read the first D&P novel, A Clubbable Woman. I found it very sexist but enjoyed it immensely and have plans to continue with the series. Have read only the first Lord Peter book and found it no great shakes. I agree with you about finding books which our youngerselves enjoyed, unbearable now. Christie’s A Murder is announced was very off-putting when I reread it last year because of the smugness of the author.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Simon, the last part was a let-down but it didn’t spoil the entire book for me. I love the author’s satire and am looking forward to reading more of him. If you ever pick him up, I’d be interested in knowing what you think of him. Have read only one Susan Hill. It was a sequel to Rebecca and was so disappointing that haven’t read anything from her further though I have her Woman in Black on the kindle.


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