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The various haunts of men : a Simon Serrailler crime novel (original 2004; edition 2007)

by Susan Hill

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8726610,181 (3.69)198
Member:Meredy
Title:The various haunts of men : a Simon Serrailler crime novel
Authors:Susan Hill
Info:Woodstock, N.Y. : Overlook Press, 2007.
Collections:SJPL
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction, mystery

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The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill (2004)

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Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
After reading four other books in this series, I finally went back to read the first. It is outstanding, and the whole series is outstanding. One curious thing about this book is Hill's choice to kill of the protagonist of the story, Freya Graffham, who in a lot of ways is a far better lead character than Simon. I'm thinking that Hill wants to keep Simon mysterious and the relationship with Freya, intelligent and intuitive as she is, would inevitably have stripped away a lot of that mystery. In the later novels the memory of Freya plays powerfully, but she seems to be a sad loss to the series now I've spent some time in her head. Hill shoots for a lot more than creating a good mystery, though she (as here) usually accomplishes this. Her real interest is the characters here, and the action is really just a mechanism through which she can put them through their paces. She's very observant, and creates characters who have something to tell us about life. One interesting difference between Hill's books and the usual mystery series is that the murderers in these books are the *least* interesting people in them--they're rather pathetically two-dimensional. Broken people. And that seems right, too. ( )
  ehines | Feb 9, 2015 |
Excellent book. Love the English theme
  shazjhb | Feb 6, 2015 |
I found this on the swap shelves in the building laundry (along with an Ann Patchett I haven't yet read). Since it was the first Serailler book, I couldn't resist. And it was very good, and quite surprising. I can't say what the surprise was without giving it away, of course, but I liked the characters and the viewpoint, although the storyline was a little on the sensational side. I think I identified the killer at about the appropriate point in the story, not so soon that I thought everyone was an idiot, and not so late that I felt I'd been hoodwinked. NIce English country town, too. ( )
  ffortsa | Jan 20, 2015 |
Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible.

I’d checked a couple of the Serailler books out of the library in the past, and have long been meaning to listen to the entire series. I loved Susan Hill’s creepy stories when I was younger.

This, of course, is Book 1, and what’s most interesting about it in my opinion is that we are introduced to Simon Serailler purely from the outside and that he’s seen in large part through the eyes of someone who’s only recently met him and who, to her great chagrin, has almost immediately fallen in love with him. That’s a pretty interesting device, as if Hill deliberately set out to call attention to the power a good fictional detective of the classic English type has over us. Serailler’s got all the hallmarks: he’s good at his job, he’s a loner, he’s got a sensitive, artistic side to the point where more than one of his colleagues think’s he’s gay. Sort of a cross between Adam Dalgleish and Lord Peter Wimsey, and in the same way this novel blends police procedural with Serailler’s family life, roping in a few friends and colleagues along the way. Of course he also has the aura of authority (a powerful aphrodisiac) and Hill seems to wave that in front of the reader’s face by having the woman who falls for him be one of his subordinates. I think I knew pretty early on how that particular plot line was going to end, although I ended up liking Freya and hoping it wouldn’t. And I think Hill meant me both to like her and to suspect what was going to happen.

One thing that distinguishes this first book is that we hear from the killer early on, building a picture of who he is psychologically long before we know who he is in fact. The plot centers around the theme of alternative medicine, very suitable since most of the Seraillers are doctors, and you get the distinct impression that Hill is on the side of orthodoxy so all in all by the time I was a little more than halfway through the book I knew where the killer was coming from.

The plotting of the book’s a little messy, for all that this is probably the most neatly structured of the Serailler books. Hill’s not a writer to reward you with a feeling of smug satisfaction; she seems to like to keep her readers a little on the uncomfortable side and is predictable in some places while throwing curve balls in others. These are good books for mystery readers who like to get involved with the characters as much as they want to see the unraveling of the mystery. Narrator Steven Pacey does a smooth, relaxed job, and is good at varying the accents without exaggerating them. ( )
1 vote JaneSteen | Jan 3, 2015 |
A haunting mystery and beautifully written, but the book's marketing leads to expectations which mar the actual experience. While considered to be the first of the Simon Serrailler series, Serrailler himself is a minor character here, and I wonder if the book was originally intended as a stand alone. Although the drama of this entry does contribute to later character development, don't expect to see or learn much about the series' main character. But do read it for the interesting mystery that it is. ( )
1 vote auntmarge64 | Nov 27, 2014 |
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Epigraph
The Various Haunts of men
Require the pencil, they defy the pen.

~ George Crabbe, The Borough

Dedication
For
My dearly loved Ghost
First words
"The Tape" Last week I found a letter from you. I didn't think I had kept any of them. I thought I had destroyed everything from you. But this one had somehow been overlooked.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099534983, Paperback)

A lonely woman of fifty-three vanishes in fog; a fat twenty-two-year-old never returns from an early morning walk . . .

Experienced policemen know that most missing persons either turn up or go missing on purpose. But fresh young D.S. Freya Graffham won’t drop it — until she discovers what links the people who disappear on “The Hill,” young and old, men and women, even a little dog. Susan Hill writes with compassion, humour and a unique understanding of the details of daily life.


From the Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:04 -0400)

"A lonely woman of vanishes while out on her morning run. The police aren't alarmed. But when a 22-year-old girl never returns from a walk, an old man disappears too, no one can denied that something is happening in the quiet cathedral town of Lafferton. When fresh-faced policewoman Freya Graffham is assigned to the case, she must unravel the mystery before events turn too gruesome"--Back cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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