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A Question of Identity: A Simon Serrailler Mystery (Chief Superintendent… (edition 2012)

by Susan Hill

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1901162,147 (3.82)38
Member:juliecheri
Title:A Question of Identity: A Simon Serrailler Mystery (Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler Mystery)
Authors:Susan Hill
Info:Overlook Hardcover (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:elderly women, entrapment, kids trying for movie parts, hospice goes to daily care, 2013

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A Question of Identity by Susan Hill

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Bought while traveling overseas, an interesting introduction to this writer and her series. Intricate plot with some false leads. Kept me guessing...now to go back and start at the beginning to know the characters in the series. ( )
  VictoriaJZ | Nov 10, 2013 |
From Susan Hill, another solid entry in the Simon Serrailler Crime novel series, which now numbers seven. Set in Lafferton, A Question of Identity describes the grisly murders of three elderly women in their homes. The genesis of these crimes goes back ten years, to a botched trial from which, despite overwhelming evidence, the accused was acquitted. Hill has structured the action so that for most of the book the reader knows more than the police, and Serrailler gropes along in the dark trying to piece together the bits and pieces of evidence that come his way. The murders and the path to their resolution are intriguing, but just as engaging are the lives of the characters that populate Hill's story. Serrailler, his sister Cat, their father and step-mother, and Cat's three children are characters in a larger drama that plays out over the course of this book, and which leaves enough loose ends dangling that readers will be eagerly anticipating the next novel in the series. ( )
  icolford | Jun 26, 2013 |
This is a Simon Seruiler mystery, which means that aside from the particular mystery, it has the backdrop of Chief Superintendent Simon Seruiler, an artist detective with an attraction for and a reluctance to be committed to women, along with his sister, Cat, a doctor, and her family, and his father, mother, and later stepmother, along with various other characters who continue for varying lengths through the novels. The location is the cathedral town of Lafferton, in England, not tiny, but not too big. Simon is a likable and interesting character, despite his imperfections. He has strong emotions and connections with his family. His sister, Cat, is the heart of the extended family, and the one he goes to for comfort. Simon plays somewhat of a father role for his nephew, Sam. This backdrop is interesting in itself, and then, the extended family is often drawn into the particular mysteries as well, with lingering effects on them.

This particular mystery is about a series of murders of old women. Some of the selections are from the point of view of the murderer. Like all these mysteries, the people are complex and the story is good and draws you in. The murderer had been given a new identity for his own protection and had stopped killing and created a new lige. The murderer, it turns out, is also known to us as a character who is not identified as the murderer. When the identities are fused, I am not completely convinced of the fusion of two, seemingly very different characters, although I am not totally unaccepting of it either. At any rate, I recommend the book, as well as the whole series. It is at the level of P.D. James, whom I consider one of the best (aside from the unfortunate Pemberly historical mystery). ( )
  solla | Jun 24, 2013 |
This is the seventh in the Simon Serrailler mystery series, quirky because Simon, who is Chief Superintendent in the British town of Lafferton, rarely makes an appearance in the books. Rather, these stories take a detailed and intimate look at the lives of those around Serrailler, whether his family members or those he is investigating.

In this novel, Serrailler is investigating a serial killer who targets elderly women. But we learn much more about the women and their daily lives and their families and friends than we do about Serrailler’s case.

Also, like previous books, the central character is actually Simon’s widowed sister Cat, and her struggles to raise her three children, the eldest of whom, Sam, has taken to bullying. Who is he, she wonders? Who, indeed, is anyone in this reverie about identity and how we define who we are.

Cat is losing her job because of budget cuts, and she must figure out who she now is without her career to define her. Similarly, Simon’s love interest, Rachel, is in a very precarious position that requires her to come to terms with her self-image. Cat and Simon’s stepmother has to deal with the changes in who her husband has become, and who she must be in response. And most critically, the killer has decided that the only way to achieve a sense of identity is to go on committing murders.

As the story winds up, we learn who the killer is, but not why the killer engaged in such bizarre rituals, or chose those particular victims. Nor is there any resolution to the identity crises facing the other characters. One assumes they will be taken further in the next installment. After all, one doesn’t read Susan Hill for the mysteries, but rather the ongoing psychological analyses she performs on her characters.

Evaluation: This book is even more unusual than the previous ones in that a whole slew of plot threads are left unresolved. This series is not for those who want a fast-paced carnival ride with well-hidden criminals and life-threatening close calls. Rather, these books call for a big cozy chair, afghan, roaring fire, and glass of Laphroaig, Simon Serallier’s warmer-upper of choice. ( )
  nbmars | Jun 14, 2013 |
The latest Serrailler continues the dysfunctional family drama, with clouds gathering over the Serrailler clan as Cat struggles with her teenagers, Simon continues to try and pick his way through his complicated love affair, and their father's second marriage shows signs of strain. I particularly enjoyed Sam's rather unexpected evolution (and the strong suggestion that something else may come to light in the future). For once there's little interplay with or influence from the case unfolding in parallel.

In the criminal thread - nominally the focus of the novel, although I think we all know at this stage that's not strictly speaking true - the narrative is split between first person reflection by the murderer and the procedural elements of tracking down a strangler of old ladies. As with many of the Serrailler books, there's very little mystery in the whodunnit - readers of previous novels will not be distracted by the red herring for a moment, and will recognise the murderer almost immediately - but Hill is always more interested in the psychology (rather than identity) of her killers. As long as you're comfortable with this, there's plenty to enjoy here as always. The insights into court case technicalities and the intricacies of protected identities (and I assume Hill has done her research here) are as chilling as the unravelling of the murderer.

Not the strongest in the series in my opinion, but a good read as expected. ( )
  imyril | May 29, 2013 |
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Book description
Susan Hill- the Man Booker Prize nominee and winner of the Whitbread, Somerset Maugham, and John Llewellyn Rhys awards- returns with a gripping mystery "eagerly awaited by all aficionados" (P.D. James).

A particularly unpleasant murder, that of a very old woman in a housing project, rocks the town of Lafferton. The murderer has left a distinctive "sign" on the body and at the scene of crime. A couple of weeks later, a similar murder occurs, and a month or so later, so does another.

Initial investigations discover that the mysterious "sign" left on the body was the calling card of a suspect who was charged with several murders in the northwest of the country, tried but acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence. All indications suggest that this person has simply vanished. Or is he right under their noses? Simon Serrailler is obliged to make delve deeper and scratch out answers, in this addictive mystery of surpassing darkness by the bestselling Susan Hill.
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A particularly unpleasant murder, that of a very old woman in a housing project, rocks the town of Lafferton. The murderer has left a distinctive "sign" on the body and at the scene of crime. A couple of weeks later, a similar murder occurs, and a month or so later, so does another. Initial investigations discover that the mysterious "sign" left on the body was the calling card of a suspect who was charged with several murders in the northwest of the country, tried but acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence. All indications suggest that this person has simply vanished. Or is he right under their noses? Simon Serrailler is obliged to make delve deeper and scratch out answers.… (more)

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