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The Various Haunts of Men Audiobook

The Various Haunts of Men: A Simon Serrailler Mystery, Book 1

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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (808 )
5 star
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3.8 (704 )
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4.3 (706 )
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  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 01-05-15
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 01-05-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Haunting Indeed"

    I'm pleased to find this series. Unusual, yes, unexpected, yes. But, from what's in "The Various Haunts of Men," it seems to me that Susan Hill can take her place among the elite of mystery writers. There's nothing cozy or formula about this story, but it's thoughtful, serious about human nature, and it feels true. I was truly hooked and moved by the characters and the emotion of the story.

    Other reviews have mentioned the relatively short amount of time actually devoted to the man who is supposedly the "hero" of this series, Simon Serrailler. Let's just say that this book is enough to keep me moving forward in the series to find out more. And I'm happy to be doing so with this wonderful narrator, Steven Pacey.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dorothy 11-24-13
    Dorothy 11-24-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "As Good as PD James"
    If you could sum up The Various Haunts of Men in three words, what would they be?

    Layered, detailed and heartbreaking


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Various Haunts of Men?

    Freya realizing she had fallen in love. It was a nice moment.


    What does Steven Pacey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I tried to read this book and found that listening to it added all the levels of emotion that are necessary to understand all of the characters.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The end. This is the ONLY mystery I have ever read that made me SAD and made me cry. Usually, mysteries are designed so that we are somehow able to absorb the deaths. They do not really move us because the important characters are somehow protected from harm. This mystery is all too real.


    Any additional comments?

    A deeply moving mystery. Susan Hill is a wonderful character writer. She is so careful and methodical, gradually building to the ultimate crescendo. It is like a piece of music. Those who can't face being discomfited by the cruel realities of crime should not read this, but I was completely absorbed.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-30-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Serrailler, Who Is Mysteriously Absent/Vague..."

    Poor title...the main character was NOT Simon Serrailler, but I suppose the author needs him to figure largely in the books later on in the series, so this was her way of introducing him (He isn't developed well and what you do find out doesn't make him terribly interesting or likeable).

    While I like realism in my stories, I don't like for a book to be categorized as a "mystery" that's part of a "series" when it does not function in the same way that most books of the genre do (in other words, the series main character is NOT the main character, so you develop a relationship with the wrong character). It's at the very least, confusing to the reader - and at the worst, quite distressing. Many threads left undone, and one major, MAJOR problem with the outcome. Like a big kick in the gut! That's all I can say without writing a spoiler.

    This is terribly unfortunate, because the writing is INCREDIBLY GOOD. I'm tempted to keep going with the series because the writing is so wonderful, but the heartache of the issues in this book makes me hesitate.

    I gave the story three stars because there are issues with the plot that I personally don't like...but that doesn't mean they aren't written well or believeable.

    I'd love to hear from other readers who went on to read more in this series after suffering through the issues in this book.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Die Falknerin 08-04-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing book from an excellent writer"

    Obviously, I'm in the minority here! Reading the many positive reviews, I feel I must be missing something.

    As a tremendous Susan Hill fan, I was stunned at what a disappointment this book was. I expected a past master of the ghost story to be better suited to mystery writing. Mystery readers have a lot of expectations and I didn't feel Hill met many of them.

    The book began well, but really bogged down in the middle, and the ending was utterly ridiculous. Some characters were well-drawn, while others seemed like cardboard cutouts pushed out on the stage of a toy theatre to "people the scene." The dialogue of characters was not well-differentiated. There was a lot of scene-painting and navel-gazing that could have been excised. And I think there was too much "sock puppetry" as the author put her own views into the mouths of one character after another, lending a preachy tone. (Polemics are for blogs and nonfiction).

    When I purchased this, I also picked up "The Pure In Heart," but I am requesting a return of it after being so disappointed in this book. I hope the series improved, and well done if it did, but I'll leave it to others to find out. If you read this, I hope you'll find something wonderful in it I simply missed. Best of luck.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 05-20-14
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 05-20-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Slow Moving and Too Long"

    I tried to like this one . . . the narration was good . . . but the story never quite "grabbed" me . . . it was very fragmented, the parts never very well pulled together, and it was hard for me to ever get very attached to the characters . . . it could have been told better in much less time . . . and there isn't really any moral to this tale.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    txkimmers Austin, TX 04-14-15
    txkimmers Austin, TX 04-14-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved the narration, hated the book."

    I was really looking forward to this because of all the four and five star reviews on both Goodreads and Audible, but I am in the minority after all: I hated this book.

    It started promisingly enough, and reminded me very much of the work of Louise Penny: mysteries set in a bucolic little town, a "cathedral town" in this case, a police procedural but with an intense focus on the internal lives of a recurring set of main characters. I spent so much time learning about the nooks and crannies of the brains of multiple characters, I half expected to learn the doggie thoughts of a small terrier that makes an appearance at one point--but I didn't, partially because the terrier gets killed by the villain early on, and also I think the terrier is male. You don't learn a damn thing about the internal lives of any male characters in this novel, with the exception of the killer, and we'll get to that in a bit.

    For the first half, it seemed that this novel was not just a mystery, but also a meditation on the nature of healing, and on the relationship between the healers and the people that they heal. I think it actually succeeds more on that basis than on the basis of being a mystery. As a mystery, it was terrible. But it had a lot of interesting observations to make about the practice of medicine and about being ill. The most compelling character for me was a minor character named Kathy, and her approach to her cancer and what happens with her. Her story was sad, but lovely and complex. However: Caring much at all for everyone else associated with the mystery that is the framework for the entire story? Not so much. When the killer strikes again halfway through, my reaction was "FINALLY", and frankly, that is not really the reaction one should have when someone gets brutally murdered. But it was a welcome respite from the internal emotional minutia to which the author subjects the reader for the entire first half of the book--and also the second half, let's just get right out and say it.

    Spoilers after this:

    As a mystery, why did this novel fail? During the second half, Hill seems to have decided to go ahead and write the mystery bit of the story, and so we become gradually more attuned to who the killer is, leading up to learning exactly who he is about three-fourths through the novel. The detective on his trail is not Simon Serrailler, but a female detective, new in town, named Freya Graffam. Freya is the main protagonist of this story, doggedly working a case that no one else believes in, but she's doomed to fail because the serial killer is really very good. She's basically got nothing until the killer starts to unravel all on his own and literally puts himself in her path, and then visits her to reveal himself because, of course, everyone knows that all serial killers are compelled to reveal themselves to their detective counterparts so they can monologue about why they did it. Why did this one do it? He hates women, natch. And terriers, he hates terriers.

    Freya is a completely awesome and wonderful character, despite falling in love with DCI Simon Serrailleur, who is barely in this book. When he does make an appearance, he is consistently referred to in full as "DCI Simon Serrailler", with an implied sound of angels singing and heavenly light casting down echoing in the reader's brain. He's good looking, artistic, from a well-off and industrious family but he's just enough of an outsider in his family to be cool and intriguing. He loves women, but is hampered by an emotional failure to launch.

    Freya, with whom we spend so much time in the course of the novel, ends up being merely "meat in the room". She gets killed off in the end, in either a sad bid to garner pathos, or just to get her out of the way to make room for Simon to take the stage in the next novel. The problem was, by the end of the book, I couldn't care less about the dude. Where was he when all the s*** was going down? Who cares? Meanwhile, Freya's unofficial partner in the case, a young rough and tumble policeman with a heart of gold AND from a tough background is disturbingly described multiple times as having a "monkey face".

    Nope. Just Nope. This book needs some Nick Angel and Danny Butterman, STAT.

    Lastly: Steven Pacey? Awesome!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Bettendorf, IA, United States 12-07-13
    Mark Bettendorf, IA, United States 12-07-13 Member Since 2011
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    "very well worth the credit and the slow(ish) start"

    I'd recently listened to several stellar books in a row, then dumped 3 middling reads mid-way through. Life is too short to stick with a poor book that requires you to suspend disbelief utterly for several hundred pages, am I right?

    Right from the start of The Various Haunts of Men, the writing was very good, and Steven Pacey's reading was excellent, improving even more as the book hit its crescendo. His various characters were all distinct, and he conveyed emotion exceptionally well. But while I knew the book would be good, sometimes we're looking for a particular type or genre of book, as well. I knew I'd eventually finish this book, but considered coming back to it later. So glad I stuck with it. The character building was well done and it had many satisfying story-lines intertwined with the overall plot. Definitely recommend.

    I don't write many reviews, and have read several other excellent books recently, but for whatever reason, wanted to give this one some notice. Happy reading!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    melissa Norwich, CT, United States 11-30-16
    melissa Norwich, CT, United States 11-30-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Okay but a little long..."

    I feel like this one took a bit to get going but overall it was a good read. It moved along at a fair pace and the ending, though a little predictable, contained elements that I had not expected. The writing is good and the narration is as well. Not a rushing thriller but a solid story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy J. Erwine York, PA 11-05-16
    Timothy J. Erwine York, PA 11-05-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Grinding start slipped into a wonderful mystery"

    I really enjoyed this book. The plot caught me by surprise in spite of the fact that I was so sure I had unraveled the remainder. The narration was great and the writing style pleasant. My only criticism is that the characters are introduced in a roundabout way that may have some readers rummaging for pen and paper to take notes. Because of this emotional attachment to the characters comes on slowly and details are easily muddled.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annette Mitchell 05-17-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Why do we have so many psychos?!!!!"

    An interesting first read. I struggled with the first few chapters and everything fell into place and it became a very good read. I did not detect any great brilliance on the part of the main character Simon Serrailer and hopefully his brilliance will emerge in future books in the series. Strangely I found D.S.Graffham and the killer more interesting than Serrailer. I was not prepared for the books ending and it took me by surprise. Overall it was a very good first book. I look forward to the next book in the series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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