Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 39.
- Review Date: 2007-02-05
- Reviewer: Staff
Weaving together a variety of subtly interrelated narratives, British author Hill (Air and Angels) embeds a thoughtful reflection on alternative medicine into a taut and suspenseful mystery, the first of a new crime series featuring Chief Insp. Simon Serrailler. Having transferred to the small cathedral town of Lafferton from London's "Met," police detective Freya Graffham explores her new community and becomes fascinated by Serrailler, her enigmatic superior. Though she fits well within the local police force, she finds herself unable to let go what seems like a routine missing persons report on a middle-aged spinster. When yet more townspeople turn up missing, her hunch is verified and a serious police search begins, bringing her into closer proximity with Serrailler at the same time it exposes her to danger. A dark but entirely convincing ending may startle some readers, but Hill's fine writing and nuanced insight into human nature should appeal to fans of such masters of the psychological thriller as P.D. James, Elizabeth George and Ruth Rendell, who provides a blurb. (Apr.)
Among the missing
English author Susan Hill has written three Simon Serrailler novels thus far. On this side of the pond, we are a bit behind, as the first of the series, The Various Haunts of Men has just been released; I predict that the others (The Pure in Heart and The Risk of Darkness) will not be far behind, as they are what my grandfather often referred to as "cracking good yarns." In a small English countryside cathedral town, Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler and policewoman Freya Graffham investigate the disappearances of a diverse group of individuals from an area of town known simply as "The Hill": a middle-aged female hospital worker; an unattractive young woman fighting acne, obesity and depression with only limited success on every front; an elderly man; and even an annoying little dog. All have gone missing without a trace. The scant available evidence seems to point to a nearby town, where faith healers, spiritualists and other new-age practitioners of various stripes ply their trades. But, as in all good mysteries, the twisty trail is littered with red herrings, and you will not easily identify the culprit (or culprits). Fans of P.D. James and Ruth Rendell can rest easy, knowing that those authors' tradition of fine storytelling will move forward at least one more generation.