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The Soul of Discretion by Susan Hill
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The Soul of Discretion

by Susan Hill

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This is No. 8, and the most recent entry, in the Simon Serrailller series. As I realized what Hill was getting our man Simon into this time, I had some serious doubts that she knew what she was doing---that either she or Simon could pull it off. I hoped she wasn't going to disappoint me by setting up a scenario that I couldn't buy; I really should have known better. Serrailler is recruited to go undercover in a maximum security rehabilitation facility, known as a "therapeutic community", where inmates convicted of sexual crimes are offered an opportunity to address their impulses and possibly learn to overcome or control them, in a more respectful and trusting environment than they are accustomed to in regular prisons. Admission is only upon request, and only after a strenuous vetting process. Simon's job is to get close to one of those inmates, a man who has steadfastly refused to provide any information whatsoever about other members of a large ring of child pornographers and abusers. Aside from the team of detectives assigned to this particular undertaking, only the governor of the facility was to be aware of Simon's true identity and purpose. How in the world could he pull this off...convincing not only the perpetrators of such hideous crimes, but the group therapists involved in their rehabilitation, that he was guilty of similar horrors. I should have trusted Hill to handle this without forcing a total suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. Nevertheless, the ending of this one---one of her darkest and most difficult---still has me hoping she knows what she's doing.
Review written October 2015 ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Nov 1, 2017 |
I picked this up in an airport bookshop, not realizing it was the eighth instalment. I think I might have read the first three or four years ago.

Anyway... Simon goes undercover in a progressive prison for paedophiles to try to and out more about a particular internet ring/interest group. His father rapes a woman and his sister agonizes about her future (especially enjoyed re private GP services: the rich deserve good medical care too - just like they deserve good schools).

I found the switching between the various strands a relief because sometimes Simon's in particular would get a bit dark. A few things puzzled me: [ Would Will really have trusted Johnno so readily? What exactly did Simon do, which led to so many arrests? Was it just giving Morson's name? If Will had protected his associates so well, why had Morson not done so? (hide spoiler)]

Now I am going to go back and read the sixth and seventh instalments! ( )
  pgchuis | May 24, 2017 |
I have read all of the previous titles in the Serrailler series so I was delighted to receive the latest via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

The Soul of Discretion, did not disappoint and was as good as it predecessors. Susan Hill is a great writer and has the knack of drawing you in almost immediately. The books do not depend on shock storylines, or graphic violence and gore which is becoming a growing feature of many contemporary thriller/crime novels. Hill relies on solid plot and great characters to keep you coming back for more.

The series has always been a clever balance of the professional and private in regard to Simon Serailler and this latest novel takes this one stage further and darker. While Simon has gone under cover to infiltrate a paedophile ring, his absence from Lafferton allows his family to come more to the fore than usual, particularly his father who has his own brush with the law when he is accused of rape.

The various story lines focus on many current social issues, the state of the NHS; the debate about end of life care; the nature and consequences of rape; and the nature of paedophilia. Thankfully this latter topic is handled well. Enough detail to leave no doubt that those involved are guilty of what must be one of the most reviled and abhorrent crimes but without being too gratuitous or graphic.

This latest book also sees a shift away from a traditional police procedural as in this case we are well aware of who the guilty parties are. This sees Serailler trying to make sure they face justice and in so this takes him to a much darker place with life changing consequences.

If you have never read any of the Simon Serailler series, I thoroughly recommend that you do, with the proviso that you start from the beginning.
( )
  Jilldoyle | Mar 27, 2016 |
In The Soul of Discretion, the eighth (and apparently final) installment in Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler crime series, Simon is called upon to go undercover in an effort to break up a pedophile ring. The assignment could take him away from his regular life as a Lafferton Chief Superintendent for several months and expose him to serious danger, but, realizing what's at stake, Simon wastes little time accepting the role, which requires him to pose as a pedophile undergoing treatment at a secure therapy centre. In the meantime, back in Lafferton, Simon's girlfriend Rachel is feeling the chill in their relationship, his sister Cat is struggling to make ends meet after the closure of the hospice where she had been working, and his father Richard takes his customarily aloof and selfish behaviour to new heights of reprehensibility. In this novel Susan Hill has once again delivered a piece of highly literate crime fiction, one that produces great suspense in four distinct but interconnected story threads. Over the course of this series Hill has created an entire world populated by characters we have come to care deeply about, with charming, intelligent and emotionally reticent Simon at the centre. The fictional Lafferton may be based on any number of quaint English cathedral towns, but readers have grown familiar with its streets and byways and look forward to it as a destination where they can happily spend a few hours every year or so. If this is indeed the final novel in the series, it ends on a muted note that mixes hope with melancholy while tantalizing us with the possibility of further developments in the lives of the characters. There is chatter that a television adaptation is in the works. If true, this would be very welcome. ( )
  icolford | Feb 5, 2016 |
3.5 stars. For me, book 8 in the series had a somewhat different tone than the previous entries. While there was a central mystery/criminal case (and a really unpleasant one, at that), much of the action centered on character development for Simon and various members of his extended family. Some of the threads were so jarring, they had me wondering where in the world Hill intends to go from here.

I love this series and will continue following it, but this particular volume left a bad/sad aftertaste. ( )
  Gingermama | Jan 24, 2016 |
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To my friend Mrs Green
(Candida Lycett Green 1942-2014)
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Lafferton, and a night in early spring.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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From the outside, the cathedral town of Lafferton seems idyllic, but in many ways it is just like any other place. It suffers from the same kinds of crime, is subject to the same pressures from a rapidly changing world, and has the same hopes and fears as any number of towns up and down the land. When Simon Serrailler is called in by Lafferton's new Chief Constable, Kieran Bright, he is met by two plainclothes officers, who ask him to take the principal role in a difficult, potentially dangerous undercover operation. He must leave town immediately, without telling anyone--not even his girlfriend Rachel, who has only just moved in with him. Meanwhile, Simon's sister Cat is facing difficult choices at work, as Lafferton's hospice closes its bedded units--and at home, as her daughter is presented with a glittering opportunity that they would have to struggle to afford. And all is not well with Simon and Cat's stepmother, Judith, either. To complete his special operation, Simon must inhabit the mind of the worst kind of criminal. This takes its toll on Simon and--as the investigation unfolds--also on the town and some of its most respected citizens.… (more)

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