Book Review: A Cure for All Diseases (The Price of Butcher’s Meat), by Reginald Hill

cureforalldiseasesFrom the back of the book:

Some say that Andy Dalziel wasn’t ready for God, others that God wasn’t ready for Dalziel. Either way, despite his recent proximity to a terrorist blast, the Superintendent remains firmly of this world. And while Death may be the cure for all diseases, Dalziel is happy to settle for a few weeks’ care under a tender nurse.

Convalescing in Sandytown, a quiet seaside resort devoted to healing, Dalziel befriends Charlotte Heywood, a fellow newcomer and psychologist, who is researching the benefits of alternative therapy. With much in common, the two soon find themselves in league when trouble comes to town.

Sandytown’s principal landowners have grandiose plans for the resort- none of which they can agree on. One of them has to go, and when one of them does, in spectacularly gruesome fashion, DCI Peter Pascoe is called in to investigate – with Dalziel and Charlotte providing unwelcome support. But Pascoe finds dark forces at work in a place where medicine and holistic remedies are no match for the oldest cure of all …

The Snapshot Review

What I Liked: I loved the epistolary method of story telling that is employed through the first part of the book, especially since it lets Dalziel narrate parts of the novel!

First Line: Hi Cass! Hows things in darkest Africa?

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: My admiration for Reginald Hill has increased – a rather remarkable feat since I already held him in high esteem. He handles the epistolary method well (I especially enjoyed the parts narrated by the lovable politically incorrect Dalziel) and as usual, there are lots of credible plot twists.

The Full Review of A Cure for All Diseases

When I first started A Cure for All Diseases (published as The Price of Butcher’s Meat in the U.S.), I was a bit puzzled, as the story starts with an email written by a character who is new to Dalziel and Pascoe readers. Charlotte Heywood, a psychology student, gives us the background to the story through her long emails to her sister who is a nurse in Africa.

Two emails into the book, and we discover Andy Dalziel talking to a digital voice recorder as he rests himself back to full Dalziel steam at a healing resort.

Very delicious! It’s hard to imagine Dalziel typing out his story, but the narration via voice recorder works wonderfully, and I enjoyed these peeks into the workings of Dalziel’s mind. It’s something I’ve often thought I’d like, and this method is a credible way of making it happen. Dalziel is one of my favourite series detectives; there is such genius and heart to him, wrapped in a crusty, politically incorrect exterior.

Charlotte Heywood’s emails are also great fun – her character is very nicely done – and overall I found that the epistolary narration added a lot of flavour to the story. I also enjoyed seeing all the suspects from both Heywood’s and Dalziel’s perspectives.

Hill mentions in the foreword that A Cure for All Diseases is based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sandition. I haven’t read Sandition, but A Cure for All Diseases definitely reads in part like a novel of manners – one that is married to a typical Hill mystery with twists and turns galore.

The Dalziel and Pascoe series has never sat still; the main characters develop through the course of each book, and their individual lives and back stories definitely add to the mysteries. A Cure for All Diseases is no different – and the addition of Dalziel’s own voice makes this one of my favourite Dalziel and Pascoe books.

As with all the Dalziel and Pascoe novels, the mystery itself never stands still. The plot is complex, and there are enough credible and clever plot twists to satisfy the diehard mystery lover. And the book isn’t all epistolary narration; there’s lots of traditional narrative to satisfy everyone all around, and as usual with Hill, lots of tongue-in-cheek commentary.

When Charley entered the lounge, Dalziel, occupying one of Tom Parker’s low-slung Scandinavian chairs like the USA occupying Iraq, tried to lever himself upright but had difficulty formulating a satisfactory exit strategy.

Somehow my library managed to get a copy of the British publication of this book (I’m in Canada). In Canada it’s also published as A Cure for All Diseases. In the US it’s published as The Price of Butcher’s Meat. I don’t quite know why the title was changed, but whichever title you find on your library or bookstore shelf, it’s a great read.

Dalziel and Pascoe fans who are expecting the typical Dalzeil and Pascoe mystery should not be taken aback by the epistolary narration, which occurs in conjunction with a more traditional narrative. It’s a great way to be introduced to the mystery and the suspects, and Dalziel’s narration is simply lovely. Ms. Bookish’s Rating: Wonderful ?

Where to buy:

U.S. (

Canada (Chapters)

UK (

Title: A Cure for All Diseases
Author: Reginald Hill
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Mystery
Format and length: Trade paperback, 535 pages
Published: 2008

8 thoughts on “Book Review: A Cure for All Diseases (The Price of Butcher’s Meat), by Reginald Hill

  1. Sarah I.

    I keep meaning to pick up some Reginald Hill – I think I’ve only read one of his books…! Every time I read a review I am intrigued. He writes series’, correct? What would be a good one to start with? :)

  2. Ms. Bookish Post author

    Kathy, I had actually put The Price of Butcher’s Meat on my wish list for Christmas, and it was the only book my family couldn’t find! Now I know why :)

    Dorte, Charlotte Heywood has a good time deciphering Dalziel, that’s for sure.

    Sarah, I’d say any Dalziel & Pascoe book would work well to get you into the series, except probably the one previous to this one (Death Comes for the Fat Man) because Dalziel’s not involved in solving the mystery in that one.

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