A woman vanishes in the fog up on "the Hill", an area locally known for its tranquility and peace. The police are not alarmed; people usually disappear for their own reasons. But when a young girl, an old man, and even a dog disappear, no one can deny that something untoward is happening in this quiet town.
Young policewoman Freya Graffham is assigned to the case; she's new to the job, compassionate, inquisitive, and dedicated. She and the enigmatic detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler have the task of unraveling the mystery behind this gruesome sequence of events.
©2004 Susan Hill (P)2011 AudioGo
Freelance journalist, now living in Israel. Audible books listener for 30 years, when I had to pretend to be blind to get access.
One of my favorite series of all times, these books by Susan Hill featuring the enigmatic Simon Serrailler, the non-doctor, third-of-a-set-of-triplets, contemplative sort of police detective who outdoes Adam Dagleish every time. "The Various Haunts of Men" is the first in the series, and while not exactly required to read or listen to them in order, it helps.
This book has everything -- story, fascinating and complex chatacters, family issues, a baffling crime (ie series of crimes), plenty of tension and maybe most importantly, a whole string of people you come to care about, many of whom continue into subsequent books.
Susan Hill is remarkable. No one creates characters like she does, and no one spins original stories with more veracity. These are people you know, with all their strengths and faults, their hidden sins and unexpected virtues.
Steven Pacey's narration is perfect -- just the right pace and tone.
The only real problem with these books is pacing yourself -- there aren't that many, and you can only read them for the first time once.
As an enthusiastic reader of British police procedurals, I was so pleased to find and thoroughly enjoy Book 1 of this series. Because Susan Hill is such a fine writer, it is more than a mere police procedural, however, and could be promoted to the category of fictional literature. I know that it is not everyone's cup of tea: the book is somewhat dark, and it does not follow a prescribed formula that we are accustomed to in books of this type.
The book tells a story of a series of puzzling disappearances in a fictional English cathedral town. Simon Serrailer is not convinced that they are connected, and it takes a detective sergeant working under him to convince him. The story does not proceed exactly as expected, and the author uses a number of unusual devices to help us get to know the characters better.
If you are a fan of "cozies" (and I enjoy a cozy myself now and again), then you might not like this book - I can see that it has received some unfavorable reviews. The ending is somewhat bleak, and yet I applaud the author for making this book realistic and eschewing the traditional happy ending.
There are a raft of characters, some of whom we can expect to find in additional books of this series, I hope. Simon Serrailer is an intriguing protagonist, and I hope to learn more about him and his family. I am downloading Book 2 as I write this, and look forward to reading the rest of the series.
House of Books
Wow. Lots of turns and twists in this novel. While I frequently don't solve the mystery--the whodunnit--before the denouement, I usually have a sense of everything. I wasn't prepared for the conclusion of this one. Again, wow! Granted, there are several red herrings, as there should be in a good mystery, but they serve a purpose by providing several parallels and perspectives. They require that readers consider various options, what they would be willing to do in some circumstances, and how far they would go to find answers and cures. Mystery novels function on several levels: they offer what probably happened, what could happen, what couldn't happen, and then what actually happened. Seldom is a police investigation straightforward. Nothing is straightforward here, which is as it should be. I will read other novels by Susan Hill. Looking for them now . . .
Reader. Wannabe writer. That's a picture of me standing in line to see Stephen King!
Men and women of various ages and one dog go missing without a trace in this small, quirky town. There's the good doctor concerned about the growing population of alternative medicine practitioners in her community, and there's the good cop concerned about the shrinking general population of her community. These concerns meet and merge and evolve into a pretty good murder mystery. Hill sets up her red herrings very nicely, and there is a surprising death toward the end, but near all of her back and side stories are left dangling!
We learn things about characters that imply there's more to come, there's more to learn about this person, but Hill leaves us unsatisfied, and without any hint that we will get what we want in later books. I can only imagine that she did this purposefully and these characters reappear in other stories. I'm going to fall for it this time and get book two, but this is Hill's last and only chance!
Susan Hill and Steven Pacey are both unarguably accomplished at what they do. However, while I admire the way Ms Hill writes, I don't admire what she writes. I began feeling depressed long before I reached the depressing ending of this book, and had already made up my mind that this was my first and last foray into the works of Ms Hill, when - with a sad sigh of relief - I finished it.
When I read one reviewer say "move over Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell", I immediately got this book. Those two are my absolute favorite authors, ever. Ms. Hill writes ok, the story was engaging, but did not pick up until close to the end, and then all in a rush. What disappointed me the most was when the killer suddenly made a VERY STUPID mistake, a mistake that made him suspect. I would have preferred it to have been much more subtle, something requiring the police (and I guess the author also...) to think.
Would I read another book by SH? Yes, if I were in the mood for a British police procedural.
The story line meanders all over the place and it appears that at least a few tracks are missing, near the beginning. The ending is the worst I've ever experienced and it appears that the writer just couldn't figure out how, or when, to end the story. Several threads are left hanging, completely unexplained.The author's inexperience shines brightly!
There is something magical when a text and narrator come together in perfect harmony. That is what the paring of Susan Hill and Steven Pacey is - harmony. Ms Hill can effortlessly render a fully dimensional character in astonishingly few graceful words - even minor characters - and Mr Pacey can equally effortlessly transform his voice into that character. with a dexterity and wit and honesty that is artful. This wonderful combination has undoubtedly led me to purchase all the books in this series and I have enjoyed every single book.
I found this book because Steven narrates Joe Abercrombie's First Law series, and I liked him so much in that series (he's like "Michael Caine reads you bedtime stories...") I decided to find other books he's read. I'm glad I did!
I really enjoyed this book. Although it started off a little slow, it was a worthwhile listen in the end.
I found it disconcerting that the author invests so much time into various point-of-view characters, only to have those characters be killed suddenly. And it seemed a bit odd to have a series of books named for a character that played a supporting role, at best -- although that perhaps changes in later books. It's almost like the author killed off everyone else, so the guy that's left gets the series named for him.
I wish there were 50 books to read from this series! I've read them all and can't wait for more!
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