Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Only Game by Reginald Hill


DI Inspector Dog Cicero is new to this beat.  He had served in Northern Ireland in the military, but left after he and his fiancé were involved in a car explosion.  She had died and Dog had been left with a face that told the story of what he had experience.  He isn't sure that being a policeman is what he really wants but is giving it a go.  

Jane Maguire is a single mother new to the area.  When her son, Noll, is kidnapped, she rushes to the police for help.  But her story doesn't add up.  She talks about a new teacher at the kindergarten she spoke with but the head of the school says no such person exists.  Jane has a reputation for being short tempered and sometimes taking her frustration out on Noll.  Add in the fact that she seems fairly well heeled for a single mother without a job and bells start ringing.

Although the police look askance at Jane, Dog believes her story of the abduction, especially after she voluntarily comes into the police station and confesses to killing Noll.  Dog doesn't believe that story at all.  The secret service guys are milling around and why would they care about a local crime without security implications?  As Dog works the case, he runs up against both his country's secret service and the men from Northern Ireland who were responsible for his tragedy.  

Reginald Hill is best known for his Dalziel and Pascoe series but his stand alone novels are wonderful as well.  He is always strong on plot with lots of twists and turns and on building characters that the reader can believe in.  The relationship between Jane and her son, and between Dog and Jane are believable and the action is fast and exciting.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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