`Few writers in the genre today have Hill's gifts: formidable intelligence, quick humour, compassion and a prose style that blends elegance and grace' Donna Leon, Sunday Times
Hurrying out of St Monkey's church one day, Joe Sixsmith stumbles across a boy's corpse in a cardboard box and into more trouble than he's ever known.
His casebook is full to bursting: retired colonial Mrs C. demands to know how the boy got there; Gallie, the Mutant from Outer Space, urges him to find the stranger nosing into her granddad's past; while Butcher, that briefest of briefs, is hellbent on digging the dirt on a deputy head's out-of-school activities.
Joe threads his way through the mean streets of Luton, fighting off cops, druggies and the matchmaking machinations of his Auntie Mirabelle. But there's little joy to be found in the truth: that kids grow up fast, and that even the luckiest ones are born guilty.
Reginald Hill was brought up in Cumbria, and has returned there after many years in Yorkshire. With his first crime novel, A Clubbable Woman, he was hailed as `the crime novel's best hope' and twenty years on he has more than fulfilled that prophecy.