Young women are being shot, but by the same person? The first uses a rifle and shoots from distance, the other shoots face-to-face. Different modus operandii, different killer? One serial killer in a small town is rare, two serial killers in a small town at the same time is beyond apprehension. The thing that sets Susan Hill’s crime novels apart from the rest, for me, is the way she deals with the violence. It is there in the storyline but not on the page, we feel it through the reaction of Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler. Susan Hill writes page-turning crime novels about ordinary people, people we can identify with, but people that extraordinary things happen to.
Cathedral town Lafferton is the setting, and Prince Charles and Camilla are due to attend the wedding of the Lord Lieutenant’s daughter, not a great idea when a shooter is on the loose. A shooter who no-one sees, who plans meticulously, and who leaves no clues behind. As women keep being killed, Serrailler’s brother-in-law is diagnosed with cancer and his widowed father suddenly has a girlfriend. Elsewhere in Lafferton, widow Helen meets widower Phil, but her newly-religious son Tom disapproves. Quite how much he disapproves, Helen doesn’t appreciate.
As the murders continue, the police focus on the forthcoming high profile wedding and the town’s Jug Fair. Both are ideal settings for another shooting.
This was the first of the Simon Serrailler books that I read, and I was immediately hooked in the way that finding a new detective series hooks you. I re-read it recently in one sitting. I’ve read many of Susan Hill’s other books too, favourites being I’m the King of the Castle and her ghost stories The Man in the Picture, and The Woman in Black [also a stage play and now a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe].
To buy special editions of Susan Hill’s novels, many of them signed, click here for her official website.
‘The Vows of Silence’ by Susan Hill, Simon Serrailler #4 [UK: Vintage] Buy now
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE VOWS OF SILENCE by @susanhillwriter #books via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1dJ