You should listen to Susan Hill's brilliant Simon Serrailler trilogy in the correct order which is as follows:
©2004 Susan Hill; (P)2005 BBC Audiobooks Ltd.
I couldn't put it down. Brilliant narrator, no stumbles or stutters apparent. Good plot and interesting characters who could be easily visualised. Would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery.
"Wish I liked it more; hope to do better."
Susan Hill's early novels were of the serious sort still labelled 'literary' and I devoured them when they appeared. I became aware that she had turned herself into a more 'popular' author when she started a stint as scriptwriter on The Archers. This is the first book of hers I have read since then.
I don't read many crime novels, because I expect to find them formulaic, like so many TV shows. 'The Various Haunts of Men' is certainly a strongly characterised, rather surprising story - for one thing, a highly sympathetic character is killed off - and death is deeply felt, not just material for a puzzle.
My reservation, though, is that the author appears to be too fond of some of her people, making them almost cloyingly altruistic and unrelievedly kind, like the worst sort of soap-opera stalwarts. She depicts the police as 100% dedicated, unprejudiced public servants, which really they are not. Her female characters seem to be over-busy for a novel - always doing drop-scones and meticulously making beverages; which is rather a lazy way for a writer to imply the ordinary background to extraordinary events.
Despite these peevish criticisms, I was glad to have downloaded the book. It had a strong sense of place, one I look forward to revisiting in the sequels. Steven Pacey is an excellent reader, reminding me of the superb David Timson.
I disagree with two points made by other reviewers. First, I am fed up of every piece of art or entertainment being classified as 'for women/men'. This stupid commodification of EVERYTHING by the gender binary is just another marketing ploy that most people seem happy to buy into. Come on, we are all human beings, and we all need stories. There's a middle ground, and this book belongs in it, as do most well-written novels. Secondly, the ending of Susan Hill's book is perfectly in tune with tone of her narrative, which stresses psychological development, not merely suspense and satisfying retribution.
"Every word counts........."
This is a beautifully written book, and beautifully read. The characters are rounded and recognisable. These are the people we meet in our daily lives who are dealing with tragedy. The plot is lively and there are twists and turns. I enjoyed every second and thoroughly recommend it. This book will appeal to both men and women.
"Not for the men"
I came to purchase this audio having been mesmerised by Stephen Pacey's narration of "The Heroes" and, possibly by the similarity of the cover to Reginald Hill (a favourite author). I certainly cannot complain about the narrator.
Possibly reviews say as much about the reviewer as the subject. That may well be true in this case , however, I was disappointed by the all to obvious perspective of a female author. I quite enjoyed the central character but the love at first sight angle was unconvincing and unnecessary to the plot. Minor characters indulge in repetitive, tedious female angst and were unconvincing.
The new age angle was initial interesting but petered out. As for our hero Simon Serrailler - he can allegedly draw and women fall over themselves through his good looks and taste. Apart from that he seems little different to any other policeman and he contributed nothing to the solution of the crime (was it actually solved?).
Whilst I can see this is setting us up for future books, I for one will not be buying those if they also take about 12 hours listening to get going.
Sorry to disagree with a previous reviewer but I really do think that this will appeal to one half of the population more than the other.
"A very good detective novel"
I've always been an enthusiastic reader of detective novels, but recently I've found my pallet getting a bit jaded. This, however, is very well written and a bit different. According to the blurb, it's the first of a series featuring Simon Serrailler, but Serrailler himself doesn't actually appear all that often and instead the novel is focused through others. It weaves together the narratives of several different characters, leaving you to guess how they all fit together and who the killer might be. The narrator reads clearly and effectively, differentiating the voices of different characters without overdoing it. It isn't a novel that you're going to keep coming back to, but it is a very enjoyable listen.
Loved the character of Freya. Hated all the mumbo jumbo about alternative therapies and how quickly the patients who had some were feeling so fantastic. Not very believable. Kept me engrossed enough while I was painting the living room, but I am glad it was an audio book as I might not have kept reading it if it was in paperback.
An excellent listen. This is first book I have read by Susan Hill. She creates believable characters within the context of an intricate story-line. As well as serving up the conventional 'whodunnit' and police procedural elements, she manages to explore several other themes as well and weaves them all together very skillfully. The narrator was excellent.
really enjoyed this audio book. its the first of series of three. iv already requested the second one for my next moths choice. easy to listen to. good characters & really well read. i get 'comfortable' with a lead character & the simon serrailler is 'most agreeable'! its definately worth a listen
"Don't go out alone!"
Susan Hill usually manages to scare the pants off me and has pulled this off (if you pardon the pun) with applomb. She manages to lull us into a sense of security in this sleepy little dormer town even though we know things are going on. Hill constucts a gradual psychological build up amongst a cast of well developed characters right up to the 'twist of the knife' ending. The reader - Stephen Pacey - skillfully brings each character to life, adding to the drama and climax of the story.
This is the first of Hill's 'Simon Serrailler' series and I'm looking forward to listening to others in the series providing I'm somewhere safe and with the lights on.
"very good book"
pulled me in quickly and kept me till the end.
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