Although set conventionally in a country cathedral city with pleasant villages around, this detective story is certainly not "cosy". It is presented..Show More » in the format whereby the thoughts of a very creepy killer are interspersed between the thoughts and feelings of the victims and description of the police actions. In this respect it is extremely well written and although you may often suspect what is about to happen it is still frighteningly suspenseful and almost impossible to stop listening.
The book also highlights the particular gullibility of those who are unhappy or depressed and how easy it is for them to be exploited and manipulated by the unscrupulous.
The large and varied cast of civilian characters, even minor ones, are interesting and well described. DCI Simon Serailler is as yet a fascinating enigma and it is fortunate that there are further books to come where we mayl find out more about him and his team. It is good to see that they are also narrated by Steven Pacey who makes each character an individual and adds much to the enjoyment of listening to this book and I definitely look forward to listening to the rest of the series.
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..Show More », 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.
After reading the first book in this series, I had a few reservations. This second entry pretty much resolved all that.
The main character..Show More », 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!
I love this series with its many interesting characters. This may not be the best book in the series on its own, but it carries the story of Simon for..Show More »ward in new and interesting directions. I highly recommend that you start with the first in the series and continue. Delightful hours of listening.
I found the first book in the series quite difficult to get into, but once I did I was hooked and am now in the middle of Book 4. I like the fact tha..Show More »t the main character, Simon Serrailler is quite socially awkward and has many contradictions, and but most of all I think the narration is the one of the best I've heard. Steven Pacey is excellent and the story moves quickly through many twists and turns.
This is a great audio to run to and I've found this last week I've gone a km or more out of my way to keep listening. Would definitely recommend.
Susan Hill is a new (to me :) )British author I've been listening to/reading. It's always a pleasure to find an author you really like who has been w..Show More »riting for awhile, so there is a treasure trove of sorts to plunder. (Phil Rickman, Deborah Crombie (albeit an american who writes British mysteries,) and Christopher Fowler are other audible mystery recommendations (to me) with a collection of brilliant novels to revel in days, weeks or however much time you have to devote to listening to books.) I am constantly listening again and again to the Rickman and Crombie novels as well as Fowler's. I expect to do so with Ms. Hill's Serrailler books.
I normally do not write recommendations but feel motivated to do so because the Simon Serrailler books need to be read in order. (Note Ms. Hill states otherwise on her web site, however, . . ,) The reason? The stories, plot and characters lives, are built upon in each new book. Where one plot starts in an earlier novel, it continues on and into the the following books. By reading Vows of Silence first, I was flung into a world of which its foundations were set forth in the earlier novels. I hope audible picks up the first novel and the most recent one.
As I read the books available on audible backwards in time I realized how much more I would have enjoyed them if read in order. But for me, it just means I will get to read them again, now in order, and appreciate the characters as there were truly intended to be.
Someone who didn't purchase the unabridged Vows of Silence released on 5-4-09 would enjoy this book a lot more than I did.
When I saw this Su..Show More »san HiIl book, with a release date of 12-9-11, I chose it immediately, thinking it must be the next in the Serrailler series. Once I started listening to it, I realized it was not new at all.
Both the 2009 and 2011 releases are listed as unabridged. Both have the same narrator. The first has a length of 9 h 59 min; the 2011 is 10 h 5 min. The cover photos are different.
Why are both on the site? Different release date and covers?
I feel ripped off and deceived.
I'm sorry to have to give the book one star, but I want to get the attention of other Hill fans so they don;t make the same mistake / aren't deceived.
I was really anticipating listening to this book because although I’ve heard radio adaptations of some of Susan Hill’s stories, I had never read a nov..Show More »el. She is highly acclaimed, and this novel seemed right down my alley. I also really enjoy Steven Pacey as a narrator. I did read in some reviews that Hill goes off on a few tangents, but I’m usually tolerant of some digressions, so I went ahead and bought this one. That was a mistake. I wanted a MYSTERY, but this novel doesn’t even introduce the crime until about one-third through. Further, Simon Serailler, the supposed main character is out of the picture for a good portion of the story. Especially irritating were the prolonged discussions of church politics. The book is well-written and engaging for what it actually is, and Pacey does an excellent job; I did listen to it. It is, however, NOT primarily a mystery. Because I did like the characters and Hill is a good writer, I will probably try another novel in this series, but this one was a bit of a dud.
While this book does move along the underlying story of the major characters, and it does solve the central crime, it leaves so many open story lines ..Show More »that it is not quite as satisfying as most of the books in the series. Still, I do enjoy this series. The characters feel like old friends. Hill's stories always move along at a good pace, and this one raises some interesting questions. All in all, I enjoyed the book but it is not the star of the series.
I've read the entire Simon Serrailler series, pretty much back to back and have enjoyed the entire ride. I was planning to review each one individuall..Show More »y but sort of fell behind. But it's safe to say they are all very good books in my mind. And the narration by Steven Pacey is over the top great. He is the reason I came across this series of books to begin with. So this is more of a review of the series as a whole than this individual book, so take it any way you want.
Susan Hill is a master story teller. There is so much more to these books than the detective work. The way she brings out all the characters and side stories is truly elegant. I feel like I know the characters personally from Simon himself, to his various love interests, his sister and her kids, father and coworkers - it’s an ever-changing environment and Susan bring it to life beautifully. The detective stories are part of each book, but not always the main focus and it’s fine.
The way Simon and his team go about solving cases seems more authentic than many of the books I have read in the past with more showy special forces or super cop types of lead characters. At first it seemed odd, I kept waiting for things to get more fast paced, until I got into the flow. It's a nine to five job and there is more to life than work and Susan blends the two together effortlessly.
If you’re looking for a good series of books that are a joy to listen to and capture your imagination and heart, you can’t go wrong with this series.