Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Various Haunts of Men – Susan Hill

This was the second time that I had picked up Susan Hill’s ‘The Various Haunts of Men’, I hadn’t put it down before because it was boring or anything, I think I had had to read something else for my book group. Anyway I decided to give it another whirl as a) I have started to get into crime books more and more b) her ghost story The Woman In Black is one of my favourite books c) I am taking part in her Creative Writing Course and wanted to do some more research/reading.

The story centres around people who vanish on ‘The Hill’ in the cathedral town of Lafferton. It’s the first in the Simon Serrailler series (of which there is now three; Pure in Heart and The Risk of Darkness follow) yet it seems to follow the story of new ‘Sarge’ Freya Graffham more as she moves to Lafferton as the disappearances start.

You aren’t actually sure if anyone has died for around the first 80 pages, even though it’s a crime book so you’re pretty clued up. That doesn’t slow down the story or the pace of the book at all as you start to get hooked on the small story lines of various members of the town and how their own personal stories start to intertwine with the main mystery.

I did guess the killer before it was unveiled however, you are still reeled into some big red herrings as well as some subtle little quotes and comments that make you question if your convicted thoughts are correct. What I also loved about the book was the eight or nine twists that start to seep in later in the novel, very clever. I also felt that Susan Hill had researched the illnesses, police dialect and facts, and depths of a psychopath in great detail whilst also using the book as a sort of social study of people and a small town. There are some twists in the end that I thought were very clever as it leaves you a bit shocked and doesn’t follow the normal ‘happy ending’ you get in some books, I just thought that made it better and more real.

I would recommend this book (though not to my Mum as she didn’t like it) to anyone who likes crime, or just really anyone who likes fiction. I cant really compare it to any other crime authors as it is a genre I am only just getting into, I did really enjoy it and will definitely be reading the next instalment. Two thumbs up from me.

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Filed under Review, Susan Hill, Vintage Books