©2006 Susan Hill; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
After reading the first book in this series, I had a few reservations. This second entry pretty much resolved all that.
The main character, Simon Serrailler, is much more in evidence here. He turns out to be a complex and interesting personality - frustratingly reserved, uncommunicative and distant; but, at the same time, a caring boss, brother, uncle and son. He and the other characters keep you interested, and the plot is an involving one.
Some reviewers have noted that the resolutions of Susan Hill's plot lines are not very satisfying for many mystery fans. I'd say that her characters and the police actions in the books may rather reflect much of the true nature of police investigations and human motives.
Steven Pacey, like all the best narrators, isn't a distracting performer. Instead, he just quietly personifies all the characters and delivers a natural and comfortable reading. Hard to beat that!
..and Steven Pacey is certainly one of the best narrators I have ever encountered. The complex interactions between Simon Serrailler, his family, his colleagues at work and family members of crime victims show him to be a fascinating and flawed protagonist. This is a heartbreaking story and is, I think, realistic rather than adhering to the type of formulae we have come to expect in mystery novels. The "dropped" story lines referred to by another reviewer are most likely resolved in ensuing books, and some patience is needed. Fortunately, I discovered this series when five books had already been written, so I could consume them in order, and follow the characters' development.
This is not a conventional mystery novel and Susan Hill is much more than a conventional mystery writer. Read them all. Read them in order. Enjoy!
I don't try write a review as if it were the only review a potential reader will see. I write things that I noticed.
With a caveat...I found the ending very frustrating. I get what the author intends, but it defeats the purpose of written mysteries to me. And the first one was irritating in a different, but in some ways similar, way. I'm going to try one more in the series, but if I don't get more of a positive vibe, I'll leave it there. If you like modern, depressing-equals-real, mysteries/procedurals, these are well written and interesting. I look to written mysteries to in the end give me a sense of hope and order, so far these don't. Side note--if you want proof that the British system of socialized medicine solves the problems of modern medicine--don't look in theses books. Simon's sister and brother-in-law constantly complain about paperwork and government oversight and how no one else is willing to be a GP...
I'm going to try one more.
Just this series, as far as I know--he is great.
really enjoyed this audio. So many interesting characters and Steven Pacey is amazing as the narrator.
Hooked on Books
I love the Serraillier series; i have read all of them (even the new one that is only published in the UK) the plot lines are picked up, characters are not forgotten, and the richness of the stories, the length of time and depth spent with them is wonderful! Do Not Miss! Read them all! The narrator is great too!
I picked this series because I'm a huge fan of Steven Pacey. He's easily my favorite narrator and he doesn't disappoint here. I think Susan Hill's writing is very good but this book left me feeling like the last 1/3 of the book was missing. I'm fine with the main plot line ending as it did but none of the other 3 or 4 other sub-plots were resolved either. I literally went back checking to see if I had accidentally skipped a few chapters. But nope, that was everything.
The story kept me captivated throughout though and I'll probably give the next book a try especially since I enjoyed the first book so much. I have a small problem with the way Ms. Hill writes her male and female characters. The female characters are, almost without fail, sympathetic people who are put upon by their male counterparts. Even Simon Serrailler is somewhat of a cad.
I typically like British mysteries/thrillers because the plot evolves slowly and logically and the action is suspenseful without car chases and blazing guns. But this was a huge disappointment. The author introduces plot lines and then forgets about them. What happened to the Americans? Why were they introduced? What happens to Diana? And Karen? And Gunten? Did he get the job? Plot resolution is non-existent, and the characters are generally unbelievable. While many characters at first glance appear to be complex, the author manages to make them incredibly unlikeable and flat. Don't waste your credits on this one - try "Gentlemen and Players" instead!
I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.
A little sadder, still so well written, great dialog if only it were not so so very bleak. Bleak is the closest I can come to describe the vein of emotion that runs through the story.
Loved Hill's "The Various Haunts of Men" Steven Pacey has a pleasant reading voice but sometimes hard to tell when there was a character change. Maybe he was just as bored as I was.
You could cut any scene or character and it wouldn't change the book. Seems to be just unrelated descriptions of people and their lives.
I would have ended the book with a serial killer taking out all of the characters. Oh, except for the children. And the labrador.
Every once in a while I read or listen to a book I like very much and then find that the author has written several others. It's like finding gold - well silver or tin - something good. This was one of those books for me.
It was not "great" (5) which for an audiobook means it's so good that I can listen to it while doing nother else. If I could give this a B+ (or a 4+) I would, but it's not a 5 so 4 is good enough.
I hope I'll be able to report the same about the rest of Susan Hill's books.
[I have a friend named "Susan Hill" and she's the most competent person I've ever known. I wouldn't be surprised if she dashed off a few good books in her spare time without anyone knowing about it and that these are the books she wrote. If it is she I applaud and congradulate her and work on the envy it arouses in me before I see her again. (Aren't people who 'can do everything' annoying?]
"Beautifully read and excellent characterisation."
Essential to read or listen to The Various Haunts of Men first to become familiar with the main cast of characters and to understand the references to things which have happened in the past. Although these stories are based around crime and police procedure I find that these aspects take second place to the exploration of the moral and social decisions that the characters are forced to make and what we learn about those characters as a result. A previous reviewer was disappointed that, in their opinion, the book seemed to come to a sudden end. Things are left unresolved and that may dissatisfy some listeners but I thought it added a realism to the story particularly poignant in the light of recent news.
I tend to choose audio books, not just on potential content, but on the voice of the reader. Stephen Pacey is very easy on the ear. I like to listen as I walk for fitness and found myself covering a few extra miles each day as the story unfolded just to hear more. So, very highly recommended. I have already flagged the third book in the series as my next listen.
"Great Characters and Narration, Difficult Subject!"
I have read Susan Hill's 'The Woman In Black' and have also downloaded 'The Various Haunts Of Men' as well as this book. Susan Hill is a master of writing great characters, and the narration really bring these people to life. It is the 2nd book featuring Detective Chief Inspector Serrailler, who is quite flawed but likeable. It can be a difficult subject matter and I found it quite difficult to listen to as I have a child the same age as the missing boy. If you can distance yourself from this, I highly recommend this book and other works by Susan Hill. I will certainly look out for her future titles.
"I'm rationing myself"
I am completely hooked on this series by Susan Hill, and I'm rationing myself because I know that so far there are only five books.
These aren't detective stories or thrillers, but carefully constructed character studies of real people. This second story leaves some loose ends which other listeners have found frustrating, but that's the point - real life often has loose ends, and Susan Hill uses this to describe her characters.
I'm also totally in love with Stephen Pacey, who must be the most talented voice actor in the country. I keep forgetting it's not a radio play.
"Excellent until the end..."
What a disppointing end to a great book. It just suddenly stops, I was so suprised as in 'The Various Haunts of Men' you find out 'who-dunnit', in this book you don't! Having said that, Susan Hill really brings the characters alive. grrr..I really wanted to find out what happened though....
I enjoyed the first book in this series but The Pure in Heart was pretty awful and I don't know why I stuck it out to the end. I could not take to any of the characters, particularly the females. Simon's sister, mother and would be love interest were grating, they were written as patronising and or pathetic at times. There was a lot around family and not so much on police work and it just didn't work for me. I won't read any more books by this author even if they were free, there are much better crime writers around
"? unfinished symphony"
Very similar to her other Serrailer books but this one rather disjointed and finishes so abruptly and with so many loose ends tied up in a hurry, that it almost feels as though the author 'got bored' with it!!
Storyline overlong and not very convincing . Too many sidelines and too much agonising over personal relationships .The main theme ,of the boy's disappearance , fizzles to a blank . Disappointing . Lacks bite and is inconclusive in so many ways that it does not work .
"No conclusive ending!"
great development of these characters but felt cheated not to have the crime resolved. love Steven Pacey's narration as always
Beautifully written and wonderfully read - second in the series and the characters are starting to feel like old friends! Just off to download No 3!
"Great storyline surrounded by family intrigue"
The abduction of a young boy stirs up more than police activity, it realignes families and feelings. Then family tragidies within Simon Serailler's families get tangled up in the guilt and impotence of the crime. As always the narration by Steven Pacy is brilliant. For me the balance between police procedural and family sub-plots errs a bit too much on the latter, but still a excellent listen.
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