Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Risk of Darkness: A Simon Serrailler…

The Risk of Darkness: A Simon Serrailler Mystery (original 2006; edition 2010)

by Susan Hill

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4423823,705 (3.64)95
Title:The Risk of Darkness: A Simon Serrailler Mystery
Authors:Susan Hill
Info:Overlook TP (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill (2006)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 95 mentions

English (40)  Dutch (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible.

I’ve been ripping through these audiobooks, since they’re short (well, they are compared to my last two years of listening comprised of the Outlander and Game of Thrones series), read very nicely and each one picks up where the last one left off. This makes them a very easy listen. I’d read The Risk of Darkness on its own a few years ago, and concluded at the time that Death was the central character, but I’d say that’s probably true of all of Hill’s books. Perhaps what I meant was that the novel doesn’t really have a central character, not even Simon Serrailler whose professional adventures and angst-filled private life are constantly interrupted by the subplots shouting for attention.

This novel’s main problem is its multiple plot lines, which are interesting but lend an air of messiness that no doubt reflects real life but won’t provide a satisfying read for crime fans used to having stories tied up a little more neatly. I found Hill to be less than completely convincing with the story of the man driven bonkers by bereavement and by the insertion of the priest with the atheist mother, although I’m sure I wasn’t the only reader who was on tenterhooks wondering if this was a Love Interest (the priest is female) and how, if it was, Hill was possibly going to make it work with the decidedly secular Simon.

Where I found the novel most compelling was in the story of the young single mother and her daughter, who are profoundly affected by the resolution of the child murder case. I’m not sure what it says about a novel’s main story when what I liked most about it was a fairly minor subplot, although I did find the clifftop scene memorable and wish Hill could write more such unlikely adventures for Simon. Realism be damned. ( )
1 vote JaneSteen | Jan 5, 2015 |
I love, love, love the Simon Serailler series by Susan Hill. This is the third of the series. I’m not sure why I love it so much, but I expect it is because she creates such fully rounded characters, with lives far beyond the mysteries. And her detective is fascinating, maddening, and appealing to me. And his family is just as complex as he is.

Moral questions and assumptions we make about victims and perps are often turned on end.

I’m going to jump into book 4 tomorrow. I can’t wait! ( )
2 vote majkia | Apr 23, 2014 |
Love this series. Complex characters, moral questions, well developed,relationships among the character s combined with a strong element of mystery make this a winning series ( )
1 vote ccayne | Nov 24, 2013 |
Hill really is a fine writer, and this series really hits its stride here. ( )
1 vote ehines | Nov 3, 2013 |
Six-word review: Every violent act has many victims.

Extended review:

That six-word review is really not a review so much as a statement of a major theme of the book. Not only is this third Simon Serrailler novel packed with violent acts, and especially violent criminal acts, but it is also an inventory of collateral damage. Even people at several removes from the perpetrators and their direct victims are seen to be harmed as a result of the antisocial acts of a few.

This is a powerful message.

In delivering that message through a gripping narrative, the book certainly succeeds. It held my attention through a very fast read of 374 pages.

Nevertheless, I came away dissatisfied yet again--even more so, perhaps, than at the end of the second book of the series.

This book reveals what should have been disclosed in the conclusion of The Pure in Heart, but wasn't: namely, who committed the abductions and murders of the missing children. However, we are left to wonder what the perpetrator actually did, and even more important, why. It took a whole third novel to close the case that occupied the attention of the (nominal) main character, Simon Serailler, throughout the second, and we are still left with major unanswered questions.

Perhaps the problem here lies in expectations. Beneath the title are the words "A Simon Serailler Mystery." To employ the label "mystery" is to invoke the conventions of a genre, and foremost among the traditional conventions of this genre is that the mystery be explained and the questions answered by the end. It would be fair to call these stories "crime novels," for they are certainly about crime, its effects, and the process of solving crimes, but they are not really mysteries in the usual way.

The principal character, Simon Serailler, doesn't even do any detecting or crime solving. Curiously, he seems to simply stand at the hub of a wheel while other characters, good, bad, and in between, spin around him.

An odd aspect of all three books in this series so far is that we are routinely shown the sensations, thoughts, and actions of numerous point-of-view characters but that there is an opacity in all of them. Secrets are alluded to but not exposed. We are told that the character remembers something, but not what it is that the character remembers. A troubling recollection, a persistent doubt, a disturbing association--these things frequently stay hidden. An inner narrative can't be called a character study if the key to a character's behavior remains oblique. Puzzles remain puzzles.

And that insight into what makes characters what they are, revealing why they do what they do, is to me one of the main pleasures in reading fiction. By withholding those revelations, the author is, in my opinion, denying me the payoff I expect in return for giving my attention to her story.

I picked up this book in haste when I made a quick stop by the library en route to an appointment where I knew I'd have some waiting time. I spotted it on the shelf and thought it would be better than a complete unknown. And it probably was. The narrative delivery, style, pacing, and all those other qualities are satisfactory. It is only that yet again it raises questions and then, frustratingly, obscures the answers. Yes, life is like that. But a mystery novel isn't supposed to be. ( )
2 vote Meredy | May 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
There was no fly and there should have been a fly.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0701176822, Hardcover)

Simon Serrailler's story began in "The Various Haunts of Men" (about a serial killer) and continued with "The Pure in Heart" (about a kidnapped schoolboy). Susan Hill is not afraid to tackle difficult issues, nor to face up to the realities of stress in an ordinary English police station. Her third crime novel, "The Risk of Darkness", even more compulsive and convincing, follows up the child abduction and explores the crazy grief of a widowed husband, a derangement, which turns to obsession and threats, violence and terror. Meanwhile, handsome, introverted Simon Serrailler, whose cool reserve has broken the hearts of several women, finds his own heart troubled by the newest recruit to the Cathedral staff: a feisty female Anglican priest with red hair..."The Risk of Darkness" is packed with action and adventure. Like "Various Haunts", it hinges on a terrific twist, which comes as a complete surprise to the reader; and like "The Pure in Heart", it deals in depth with complex daily problems.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:05 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Following on from the child abduction in her previous novel 'The Pure in Heart' Susan Hill explores the crazy grief of a widowed husband, a derangement which turns to obsession and threats, violence and terror.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
13 avail.
9 wanted
5 pay2 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.64)
1 4
2 3
2.5 2
3 45
3.5 24
4 70
4.5 7
5 14


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 99,716,663 books! | Top bar: Always visible