It is 10 years since this, the first Simon Serrailler novel by Susan Hill, was published. I recently read the eighth in the series and it made me want to revisit the beginnings of the character of Detective Inspector Serailler and the cathedral city of Lafferton.
I remembered two things, the enigmatic DI, and the misty spooky Hill, its ley lines and standing stones. Re-reading The Various Haunts of Men, the dichotomy of the setting was as I remembered it: cathedral, choir, close-knit community, beautiful countryside and looking over the city, The Hill. Benign and beautiful by day, spooky by night. One woman disappears, a private, quiet, hard-working woman. Next, a dog vanishes on The Hill. Alarm bells start to ring with the third disappearance, a young woman, plump, problem skin, depressed, who has recently developed an interest in alternative therapies. Characters are introduced and there is that extra frisson at the beginning of a series when every character is unknown: which are the victims, which is the murderer? With the luxury of ten years since my first reading, I did not remember the identity of victims or criminal.
Re-reading it, I wasn’t disappointed. It has spurred me on to re-read the next. This is the first Simon Serrailler novel, published in 2004. For Susan Hill’s other books, click here for her website.
‘The Various Haunts of Men’ by Susan Hill, Simon Serrailler #1 [UK: Vintage] Buy now
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