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The first book in a great family saga. With murder added of course . Not for the faint hearted.
When I first read “the various haunts of men” several years ago, I found something about it too emotionally charged for me at the time and did not seek out the sequels.
Now, having returned to the series via the first audiobook I find myself ready to embrace Hill’s world and style of writing.
I love the way Hill weaves ethical and religious dilemmas into her plots . She encourages the reader to think “what do I think about this? What would I do or say? “ Her characters feel real, rounded , nuanced. Faith or lack of it is openly explored but without judgement and with a sure but light touch.
Having re-read The various haunts of men after a gap of several years I realised I really wanted to follow up with the rest of the series. Gone through the first 4 in under a week...
Few detective stories make me actually weep but these have done occasionally. Some aspects of the storylines have touched on some still raw nerves from my own family experiences .... though glad to say I am not referring to the actual murders!
From her first great book “In the springtime of the year” Hill has been determined to encourage her readers to grapple with their own thoughts and feelings and experiences around death by showing us how others have coped with a death they are facing . She has found the perfect vehicle in the Simon Serrailler series. The interplay between agnostic but deeply caring detective with Christian GP twin sister is just one of the fascinating relationships that are woven through the stories. Never patronising or spiritualising, never dumbing down or dismissing pain and doubt . There is deep honesty here, but, like so many great authors Hill knows when to shut the door, to turn the page so that the witnessing never becomes prurient.
For me, Susan Hill is a new writer, thanks to the Duchess of Cornwall for her recommended reading list, but why oh why didn't I find her earlier? It did not take me long to fall for this different style which despite the subject matter, is often lighter throughout and it just took me by the hand and led me to a satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed the descriptive pieces giving us a feeling of Lafferton and some of its streets, closes and homes large and small and the fabulous characters we get to know bit by bit with quite a bit of their backstory thrown in. As for DCI Simon Serrailler we learn more about his family than him really, he seems a bit elusive but knowing this is book 1 in a series of his name, I am sure there is plenty to learn of him and the rest of the characters and probably more in the future books which is exciting.
A character driven story with beautiful description and wonderful story telling, I also noted no bad language which was nice, for me an utterly compelling read which I have to give 5 stars and I am excited to continue this series as soon as possible to catch up with what I have been missing out on for so long.
I love Susan Hills writing style, she really pulls you in. The details aren't frivolous or overdone and her characters have enough about them to be invested in. Even peripheral characters have the right amount of filler. This 1st in a series certainly sets up the following books nicely concentrating on a side character arc rather than the main Detective who has only a peripheral role. I'm a late arrival to this well established series but I'm hooked.
Okay, this is a strange one for me. This is the kind of book I normally look at and put straight back onto the shelf, thinking its not gritty, or gusty enough for me. Surprise, surprise, I was enthralled with this book, and the more I read, the better it became. It's also quite nice not to have F her and F there, and goes to show, that you can capture your audience without the use of foul language. Now to the book, The Hill, a place where people jog, walk there dogs, take a stroll, look at it from there windows. Freya Graffham has moved from London Met. Divorced and enjoying the peace and tranquillity of Lafferton, she feels that there is something sinister in the disappearance of a middle aged lady, when another young lady disappears around the Hill, she immediately senses there is something not quite right and with the help of DI Simon Serrallier (a man she has fallen hopelessly) in love with) they need to find a killer, and quickly before he strikes again. Needless to say I will be buying the next book.
This was the first book I've read by Susan Hill, although I was aware of "The Woman in Black" and had seen and enjoyed the film. "The Various Haunts of Men" is an intriguing story, skilfully put together so that, although it starts as something of a "whodunnit", the reader is gradually drawn into the realisation of who did actually do it. This in no way spoils the story, let me hasten to say, but actually adds to the intrigue. The characters are beautifully drawn and the police procedural aspect is well done and doesn't hinder the speed of the plot as can sometimes happen. I must say that I enjoyed this book far more than any I have read in recent months and will definitely be reading further books in the Simon Serailler (a detective inspector, incidentally) series. As a great admirer of Ruth Rendell and P D James, both of whom have, sadly, left us recently, I'm very pleased to have discovered Susan Hill and DI Simon Seraiiler.
I read and enjoyed The Woman in Black but had no idea Susan Hill had written a series of police detective stories. An email from Amazon prompted me to take a look and having read the first in the series I was hooked. They are an easy read. Not just the crime and investigation but more complex stories dealing with family feelings and emotions. I'm now on number five and looking forward to reading the rest of this series.
I only recently discovered Susan Hill when, having seen the film, I read The Woman in Black and was so impressed by her style and prose I went on to buy this. It did not disappoint in any way whatsoever: very well-plotted, beautifully written and well-drawn characters who I actually liked. A real change from the usual modern, one-dimensional crime thrillers; I'll definitely be be buying more of this author.
This is the second time I have bought this book, the first one got lent and not returned. It is the first in the Simon Serrailler series and very readable, as a hero Simon is not a very likeable person but somehow it doesn't stop you wanting to keep up with him and his family on their journey through life. Having read them all now I want to keep the complete series and re read them time and again, they are truly good and compelling books I hope Susan Hill writes more.
My first Susan Hill novel and I thought it was brilliant. So many characters are introduced and developed, so many false leads are started and there is a wonderful contrast between harmless charlatans and pure evil. Perhaps there is an over preponderance of female characters (with a love story to boot) and the men are rather flat caricatures. The emotional effects on the police and their personal involvement are sensitively and persuasively depicted and the agony of waiting so long with no leads comes across. Then there is a sudden denouement and dramatic ending. Thoroughly riveting stuff.