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Joe Sixsmith Books In Order

Publication Order of Joe Sixsmith Books

Blood Sympathy (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Born Guilty (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Killing the Lawyers (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Singing the Sadness (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Roar of the Butterflies (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Joe Sixsmith is the lead protagonist of the “Joe Sixsmith” series of detective mystery novels by English crime author Reginald Charles Hill. Hill was born to professional footballer Reg Hill, during the age when people played football not for the money but for the love of the game. He got his love of books from his mother who was a great lover of Golden Age crime writers, whose books she had stocked in her home library. He went to the Carlisle Grammar School and was one of the best students in English which probably informed his choice of university degree. Reginald went to the National service or two years before he went to study English at Oxford University’s St Catherine’s College. For several years, he worked as a teacher and even became a senior Lecturer at London’s Doncaster College. In 1980 he left his job teaching at university to become a full-time author, and by 1995 had won the Diamond Dagger by the Crime Writers Association.

Reginald Hill is best known for the writing of the “Dalziel and Pascoe” series featuring Peter Pascoe and Andrew Dalziel two Yorkshire detectives. The series was later adapted into a TV series by the BBC. Hill is also known for the “Joe Sixsmith” series of novels. The novels follow the life and times of a black former machine operator named Joe Sixsmith, who also works as an amateur sleuth in the fictional town of Luton. Reginald Hill has also variously written as Charles Underhill, Dick Morland, and Patrick Ruell. Apart from his novels, he has also written ghost tales and short stories. His novels are typified by several structural features such as non-chronological telling of the story. Hill also loves to use one work of art or writer as the central theme in his work. For instance, he has at one time used Greek mythology as the central element and at another time wrote a novel that was a pastiche of Jane Austen. While he for the most part writes contemporary crime novels, he read many of the modern and classical novelists in addition to the entertainment of crime writers during his teenage years. As an adult, he preferred crime, which he found still as entertaining and interesting as the serious novelists he had grown to love over the years. Reginald Hill died from a brain tumor in 2012.

The lead of the Joe Sixsmith series is a short, black detective of Luton town in the United Kingdom. He sings in the choir, and is a pretty funny, unassuming and gentle person that once worked as a lathe operator. Since he was fired from his former job due to downsizing, he had become an amateur sleuth. He lives with his cat which he often takes along in his ancient British car. The cat named Whitey will go with him on his drinking jaunts sharing his beer by drinking from a saucer he places for him under the table. Most of the novels in the series are serendipity mysteries similar to the Gadget or Inspector Closeau series, even though the lead tends to be decent and lucky just as much as they are incompetent. Reginald Hill writes dense plot-lines in a very light tone that typically start with Joe being presented with a variety of unrelated problems, which he tries to resolve in his bizarre and amusing way.

“Blood Sympathy” the first novel of the series introduces the middle-aged, balding detective Joe Sixsmith of Luton, Bedfordshire. Joe is not your ordinary Englishman as he is black man that never investigated anything in his life. Joe is a man who loves cats and lives and walks around with his cat named Whitey. His aunt believes anyone would be crazy to hire the man for any investigative work. Sixsmith just got his first case as a detective investigating a case of a bizarre family that had gotten themselves entangled in a murder. One believes she is a witch while another has just confessed to killing his entire family. Alongside such persons, his other two clients who believe Joe has taken their drugs look almost normal. The novel is set in the fictional Luton Bedforshire. However, in character it is more like Sunhill or Walford with their grittiness. Joe is always finding himself in some kind of misadventure though he often muddles through by pure luck or sheer determination to solve his cases. “Blood Sympathy” is most similar to Dirk Gently by Douglas Adams both in terms of material plot and character development. It is a thrilling novel with numerous twists and turns of plot and interesting characters that will leave the reader in thrall.

“Born Guilty”, the second novel of the Joe Sixsmith series of novel is one of Reginald Hills best ever novels. The novel is a literate, complicated, tight, a little offbeat and sometimes funny novel following the sleuthing life of amateur detective Joe Sixsmith. Joe Sixsmith is still a run-of-the-mill, regular Private Investigator that lives quite the interesting life dealing with all manner of bizarre clients. Being on the bottom rung of private detectives having just started his investigative agency, his most exciting case for months has been a case in which he was required to investigate a man whose wife thought was cheating. But all that changes when a series of unexplainable coincidences occur in his life and leads three clients to him. These are disparate clients that soon lead him right into an intricate investigation that will tax the energy and intelligence of the amateur detective. One man comes to him saying that he dreamed of a murder and that he is best placed to report it so that the police can act to prevent it. Another client comes to him asking that he investigates an immigration mix up that had led to her husband being held at the airport for days. Another lady believes that someone is out to get her because she is a witch and wants him to investigate who the person could be. It would seem that there are connections between the three cases, though at first glance Joe cannot see how they could be related. However, the lives of several people may be in danger if he does not act.

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