Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Robert Hale
Release Date: March 2003
ISBN: 0709073909
Format Reviewed: Paperback
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Genre: Historical Crime (Yorkshire, England 1960s)
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:

Constable Over The Stile
Magna General Series
Nicholas Rhea

     Heartbeat goes on from strength-to-strength and now boasts a spinoff about the local hospital, called "The Royal." If you are one of this entertaining show's many fans and haven't discovered the books the series was based on yet, then you have got a lot of catching up to do as there are nearly thirty! Robert Hale has now reprinted one of the earlier ones first published in 1998 in paperback, telling in Nicholas Rhea's gentle and down-to-earth way about his beat in one of Yorkshire's most beautiful and remote areas.

     As I've said when reviewing previous titles, if you think crime fiction is fantasy unless it has lots of hard-hitting social comment, gore and fast action, then this isn't for you, but as G K Chesterton once remarked "There is as much realism in a cathedral as in a dustbin and anybody who thinks that the term only means anything pertaining to the seamier side of life ought to go find a dictionary."

     Although the book starts with some descriptions of the different kinds of stile to be found in Yorkshire, this is not a collection where the tales have much to do with the title. Find out what makes a respectable elderly lady cower in terror in her garden shed, how a love-struck young farmer wrote his girlfriend's name in sheep on a hillside, and the extraordinary true story of a bizarre sculpture. There are stories about rescues and missing persons, what happens when Claude finds a pot of antique coins, and the true identity of an elderly spinster, and a couple's absent son. Threaded through all this are fascinating details about policing in those days in a rural area, how people reacted to their first traffic lights, and what life was like on a remote farm. By turns idyllic and bleak, reading this is like sinking into a warm bath or putting on your favourite slippers (presumably not both together). If you are wondering whether you have to have seen the series in order to enjoy this or even make any sense of it, the answer is an emphatic "No," as the books came first. Escapist? Yes, but historically sound as well.

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