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The Only Game by Reginald Hill
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The Only Game (1991)

by Reginald Hill

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When Jane Maguire’s 4-year-old son is kidnapped from his kindergarten, it seems clear to Detective Inspector “Dog” Cicero that Maguire knows more about the event than she is letting on, but her startling confession a week or so later seems to be quite unreal to him as well. And it seems that members of the elite Special Branch are pursuing Maguire for their own reasons, too, and they don’t much care about saving the life of a little boy…. "The Only Game" is as far as I know a stand-alone novel by Reginald Hill (writing as Patrick Ruell), who is best known as the author of the Dalziel and Pascoe series. This novel was written in the early 1990s and is very much caught up in The Troubles of the time, although the story is set in England, not Northern Ireland. It is fast-paced, with interesting and well-drawn characters, but I ended up just feeling kind of depressed about the then-state of the world after finishing it. Sigh. ( )
  thefirstalicat | Mar 14, 2016 |
This is a non-series Reginald Hill book; i.e. not a Dalziel and Pascoe, or Joe Sixsmith and, I was slightly disappointed. To be fair, I would probably have given a different author four, or even four and a half stars but, I know what a good writer is Mr. Hill.

Our hero, 'Dog' Cicero, is that favourite of detective writers, a good rogue cop. He has, in his past, baggage from his time as a soldier in Northern Ireland, which, of course, plays a part in our drama. Dog is trying to rescue a kidnapped child. The problem is that MI5 are involved and they are more interested in capturing an IRA accountant than saving the child. Dog not only saves the boy but also falls for his mum and wants to save her too.

The problems with this book are threefold; firstly, the story is a little clichéd, secondly, the end ties the loose ends just a little too neatly and, most inexcusable of all, Reg seems to have cast aside his humorous style.

This could not be described as a bad book but, I was pleased that the ending leaves a return of Dog, as most unlikely. ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Aug 23, 2010 |
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"When a four-year-old child is abducted from an Essex kindergarten, Detective Inspector Dog Cicero soon realises that this is to be no routine investigation. Something about the child's mother troubles him. Maybe it's just the fact that she comes from Derry, and Cicero's Northern Ireland scars go deeper than his ruined face. But he feels there's more to it than that. Why, for instance, is Superintendent Toby Tench leaving his devious Special Branch footprints all over Cicero's patch? And why does he want the courts to release Jane Maguire on bail after she makes a confession? Tench plays his cards close to his chest, and Cicero finds the odds are stacked against him, both personally and professionally. But Dog's a gambling man, and when death's the only game in town, a gambling man has got to play."--Container.… (more)

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