In this volume of the Dalziel & Pascoe series, two cases make up the bulk of the book. In the first, Dalziel suspects a local construction company owner of murdering his wife; the facts seem to say suicide, but Dalziel pretty sure he saw something that points to murder. In the other, a mysterious woman is writing letters to Dalziel about her impending suicide. This is set against the backdrop of an upcoming festival in which Dalziel will be playing God in a medieval mystery play. Some of the stuff works better than the other stuff. The stuff with the local builder, Philip Swain, is pretty well pure gold; like Dalziel, the reader is pretty sure he’s guilty early on, but as the certainty grows, his cleverness and ability to think on his feet makes you admire him to the degree that I was ALMOST pulling for him to get away with it. But that plot has a masterfully ambiguous ending that leaves you unsure what actually did happen. The suicidal lady plot isn’t as good; the first letter is intriguing, but the letters start to become repetitive and I really found the resolution to this plot to be weird and unsatisfying. Some nice side development of Sergeant Wield is always appreciated, though his subplot, involving cases of soccer hooliganism ends up going nowhere at all. It was definitely a good book. The Swain plot was fantastic and, in one bravura sequence in a parking garage, absolutely hilarious; very well characterized. The other stuff is less satisfying, but the book remained entertaining and interesting. 3 stars.
tl;dr – the main plot of Dalziel & a murderer matching wits is a winner, but the side plots are less interesting; still, an entertaining, well-written novel. 3 stars.