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The Various Haunts of Men: A Simon Serrailler Mystery (Simon Serrailler Crime Novels) Hardcover – April 19, 2007

120 customer reviews
Book 1 of 8 in the Simon Serrailler Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
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"A gripping whodunnit and a subtle study of the mind of a psychopath" Daily Mail "I loved this book. Masterly and satisfying" Ruth Rendell "This book must be judged as a potential successor to the great sequences of detective writing by PD James and Ruth Rendell...excellent" Daily Telegraph "She has the priceless ability to construct a solidly-researched narrative that keeps the reader turning the pages" Independent "Hill's first crime novel has a grip of steel" Woman and Home --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Simon Serrailler Crime Novels
  • Hardcover: 438 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; Book Club Edition edition (April 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585678767
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585678761
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader on September 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
With "The Various Haunts of Men," Susan Hill takes her place beside Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine and P.D. James as a writer of top psychological thrillers. Many of her earlier works were rooted in the supernatural ("Strange Meeting" is one of the most haunting books I've ever read) and while "Haunts" stays mostly on solid ground, be aware that you have entered a world where protagonists may be guilty, or die, or the crime may never be solved or even discovered. The unwritten contract most readers make with mysteries was never signed by Susan Hill, and thank God for it. No one should ever expect to trust certain characters or expect a resolution-not in a mystery and certainly not in one by Susan Hill.

In this novel she introduces DCI Simon Serrailler, a detective from a family where everyone in the family has been doctors for generations; a gifted artist; and a handsome man who attracts women but is strangely repellent. Hill adds a number of characters connected to his twin sister Dr. Cat Deerbon, and through her, to the crime. These characters are so fully developed that each is worthy of their own book and you will become attached to them. You may figure out who the serial killer is, but you will not be able to guess what that person will do next or why he chose this small town to do it in.

I'll let you discover the plot of "The Various Haunts of Men." This is an engrossing read and one that promises a terrific series. It is nice to see rules broken and stakes changed in a genre that has become rather predictable. If you like to know what's what in your mysteries, then this book will drive you crazy. If you like an edge, read on.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on October 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Susan Hill is a well regarded British author and several of her books including the ghost story THE WOMAN IN BLACK have become modern classics. Hill's ability to create memorable characters and atmospheric settings are highly evident in her mystery THE VARIOUS HAUNTS OF MEN. The story is set in the small cathedral city of "Lafferton" and the surrounding villages. Police detective Freya Graffham is new to this city after choosing to leave London following a divorce and we see many of the characters through her observations. The mystery centers on several people who have suddenly disappeared in the community and the victims as well as their friends and other witnesses are all well developed characters. Freya becomes involved in the case and also develops an immediate crush on the intriguing Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler and his triplet sister (the other of this sibling trio is offstage in Australia) and parents play supporting parts in the story. The sensitive Serrailler (not the typical policeman as he loves sketching and has some resemblance to P. D. James' poetic detective Adam Dalgliesh)remains a bit of a mystery. However THE VARIOUS HAUNTS OF MEN is subtitled "A Simon Serrailler mystery" and two other books featuring him have been published in Great Britain and will be published in the US so readers can learn more about this attractive policeman soon.

At 438 pages this is not a quick read but a literate and worthy one. The characters' personalities and struggles as well as the portrayal of average British life are of more interest than the actual mystery itself since most will spot the villain long before the book's climax.
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60 of 70 people found the following review helpful By One Small Voice on March 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's difficult to describe why this book so outraged me without filling this review with spoilers, and that's a sin I'm not willing to commit. All I can do is note that this terribly frustrating novel left me, upon reading its final page, with no desire other than to hurl it across the room.

You don't know me, as I haven't written a review for Amazon before, so I can't really expect you to take any of this on faith. I will offer it anyway, though, because I'm only 30 minutes from having finished the book and am still fuming.

I suppose I must have picked this up because something in the title and cover design suggested that maybe, just maybe, here was an author looking to play in the same arena Tana French is defining with such brilliance.

Maybe you're thinking the same thing. And, if so, welcome to my world of disappointment. You will find major plot points either unresolved or resolved with such muddiness -- in this case, we're talking about the novel's major revelation of motive -- that you are left with as little in the way of answers as when you started. You will find yourself, as the title of this review notes, outraged at the final major plot choice made by the author. And you will find, as well, that what is proudly billed as the first "Simon Serrailler Mystery" absolutely isn't. He's a supporting character defined so enigmatically, with so little appeal, that it's hard to imagine looking forward to the next book.

What makes all of this especially frustrating is that Susan Hill can actually write. This is a difficult novel to put down, with many characters very well drawn -- with the exception of the one the series is supposed to be about! -- and a story line that indeed propels you forward.
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