Reginald Charles Hill (born 3 April 1936, West Hartlepool, County Durham) is a contemporary English crime writer, and the winner in 1995 of the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement.
Hill was born to a "very ordinary" working-class family...his father was a professional footballer long before sportsmen earned riches...but began reading young. His mother was a great fan of Golden-Age crime writers, and he discovered the genre while fetching her library-books. After National Service (1955—57) and studying English at St Catherine's College, Oxford University (1957—60) he worked as a teacher for many years, rising to Senior Lecturer at Doncaster College of Education. In 1980 he retired from salaried work in order to devote himself full-time to writing.
Hill is best known for his more than 20 novels featuring the Yorkshire detectives Andrew Dalziel (pronounced ), Peter Pascoe and Edgar Wield. The characters were used by the BBC in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, in which Dalziel was played by Warren Clarke, Pascoe by Colin Buchanan, and Wield by David Royle. He has also written more than 30 other novels, including five featuring Joe Sixsmith, a black machine operator turned private detective in a fictional Luton. Novels originally published under the pseudonyms of Patrick Ruell, Dick Morland, and Charles Underhill have now appeared under his own name. Hill is also a writer of short stories, and ghost tales.
Hill's novels employ various structural devices, such as presenting parts of the story in non-chronological order, or alternating with sections from a novel supposedly written by Peter's wife, Ellie Pascoe (née Soper). Clues may also be provided in such a way that readers sail past them, only realising at the end how their own assumptions have been exposed. He also frequently selects one writer or one oeuvre to use as a central organizing element of a given novel, such as one novel being a pastiche of Jane Austen's works, or another featuring elements of classical Greek myth. In a different kind of tease, the novella One Small Step (dedicated to "you, dear readers, without whom the writing would be in vain, and to you, still dearer purchasers, without whom the eating would be infrequent",) is set in the future, and deals with the EuroFed Police Commissioner Pascoe and retired Dalziel investigating the first murder on the moon. In another departure from the norm, the duo do not always "get their man", with at least one novel ending with the villain getting away and another strongly implying that while Dalziel and Pascoe are unable to convict anyone, a series of unrelated accidents actually included at least one unprovable instance of murder.
The unusual force of Hill's writing career is suggested by a comment he made in 1986:
I still recall with delight as a teen-ager making the earth-shaking discovery that many of the great “serious novelists,” classical and modern, were as entertaining and interesting as the crime-writers I already loved. But it took another decade of maturation to reverse the equation and understand that many of the crime writers I had decided to grow out of were still as interesting and entertaining as the “serious novelists” I now revered.