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This is the fourth one in the series I've read. It's basically a soap opera with added murrders. The characters are well written and Simon is suitably complex and unlikable. Be prepared for fatal illnesses and deaths amongst the main characters and their friends in each of the books - as well as the occasional unrelated murder of a family friends' relative along the way. OK so far, but what has finaly made me decide to stop here is the creepng rather pompous Christianity and praying (whole verses included) indulged in by a number of the key characters which has started to get me down. To top it all, the rather self-rightous female vicar is of Jewish heritage which could have been interesting to explore, but is only mentioned briefly as being a "problem" for her mother ( a sterotyped, cold heartred, North London child psychoanalyst who also gets murdered by an ex patient who was presumably damaged by her uncaring nature). Enough - Susan Hill is a writer of great talent, but this series is really not for me.
I loved Susan Hill’s ghost story, ‘The Woman in Black’, so when her crime series was recommended, I didn’t hesitate. I seriously cannot stop reading the Simon Serrailler stories. The characters in Hill’s books feel real in every sense and the story lines are incredibly absorbing. I don’t get enough time to read as much as I would love to, but I am reading these back to back. I would suggest reading them in order, particularly books two and three (The Pure in Heart; The Risk of Darkness) , as they have a run on story line. Love them!
I will repeat what I said when reviewing the previous book in this fantastic crime series "these books just keep getting better". This series is a mix of a police procedural/serial killer/family epic, it has it all. In the earlier books I complained it took too long for the first murder to be committed and there were lots of side stories to distract from the main investigation. These last couple of books have introduced the villain earlier and built up the pace nicely. The now familiar personnel/family are there along with some new faces and sad departure of some favourites. A cracking read from start to finish. Highly recommended.
Yes it's well written, but oh so depressing. Half the characters have cancer, are caring for cancer patients, or have lost someone to cancer. The other half get shot at or are wounded in accidents. I kept reading to the end but I'm not sure why, the plot is quite ridiculous. No more for me from this author, too bleak, and no real warmth to be found in the characterisation.
I remember reading earlier Serrailler novels and enjoying them. This one doesn't do it for me. Too long spent on the religious soul searching of a minor character who might just get into a relationship with Simon. Then the other sub-plot of Tom who "gets" religion and jumps off a tall building. It was as if these sub wanderings were just there to pad out a sorry tale. There were few if any connections within the plot to the killer and a big let down in the final capture. Even if I don't manage to join the dots as I go through the plot I like to be able to look back and recognise what I missed. I appreciate that his sister's situation could have been built up to see the impact on Simon as he trailed the murderer but even then there was no real emotional impact on the actual main story just a very sad parallel line. This just didn't do it for me. It was as if the series was more important than the novel when each should be able to stand alone and if anything make you desperate to get the next. I'm now desperate to miss it.
This book is every bit as gripping as its predecessors. A gunman is terrorising Lafferton, especially young women about to get married. Simon has to track down this serial killer before he can do any more damage. The press don't think he is doing enough and his colleagues are frustrated at the lack of meaningful leads. But Simon must also deal with the serious illness of his brother in law and the advent of a new woman into his widowed father's life.
What always grips me about these stories is that Simon is a far from perfect human being. He resents his father's new partner and cannot make up his mind about whether he wants someone in his own life permanently. He rows with his much loved sister Cat, and lets his own feelings colour his relationships with colleagues to the extent he almost misses his chance to unmask the gunman.
As ever, this is a complex story with many sub plots which keep you guessing right to the end. I had my suspicions about the identity of the gunman - which proved to be correct - but this did not spoil my enjoyment of the story. The clues are there but so are the red herrings and there are several possible candidates. Will Helen and Phil find happiness in spite of Helen's disapproving son? How will Cat cope when she has to be doctor and wife and still maintain a normal front for the children? What about the fate of the various young women about to be married and the Royal visitors to the society wedding? Jane Fitzroy also makes an appearance - how will Simon deal with seeing her again? This is a well written and thought provoking psychological thriller about human beings - faults and all.
Susan Hill writes with great detail, drawing you in to her stories with ease. I enjoy reading about her characters and the settings they are in, I just don't like Simon Serrailler. Still, there are more books in the series with which to warm to him.