Pictures Of Perfection - Reginald Hill Another classic from Reginald Hill. What would a mystery be without a murder? The local bobby has disappeared from Enscombe and soon our favorite three, Sergeant Wíeld, Pascoe and The Fat Man, are sucked into a maelstrom of deception and fantasy that boggle the mind. Without giving away too much of the plot, which takes places in a “perfect” little town in Yorkshire (fuctata non perfecta is a theme that runs throughout) the result is “Two whole days, and what have we got? Bodies in the morgue, none. Bodies in the cells, none. Policeman resigned, one. Crimes committed, any number. Citizens willing to bring charges, not a single one!”

If you have not indulged yourself in the pleasures of Hill’snovels, I suggest starting with the book of stories,{Asking for the Moon] which explains how The Fat Man and the Pascoe got together, then Pictures of Perfection, which explains how Wield and Digweed wound up in Enscombe. Digweed puts life in Enscombe into perspective. “Enscombe is very much fuctatus rather than perfectus, I’m glad to say. Perfection is unnatural, Sergeant, because it implies the absence of either development or decline. Haven’t you noticed? It’s the political parties and the religions with the clearest notions of the perfect society that cause the most harm? Once admit the notion of human perfectibility, and the end can be made to justify any amount of pain and suffering along the way. Besides, it would put us both out of work. No crime in the perfect society, and no desire to read about the imperfect past either! So here’s to imperfectionl”

But keep that dictionary handy: solecistically, etiolated, fumarolic, hydriotaphic (the adjectival form of hydriotaphia which is a funeral urn), and exophthalmic to name just a few great words. Lots of illusions to Jane Austen, most of which I suspect went completely over my head. This is great stuff.