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A Question of Identity: Simon Serrailler Book 7 Paperback – October 25, 2012
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The title of this, the seventh in the Simon Serrailler mysteries, gives a hint at the complexities of identity. In the novel, identity is something police and prosecutors must establish to link person and scene of the crime. It also becomes something much more fluid and pernicious as it relates to character and deception. Past informs the present here—in 2002, a serial killer in Yorkshire has, incredibly to all the trial watchers, gotten away with his murders. Quick cut to 2012 and Hill’s fictional town of Lafferton. An elderly woman is murdered in her home. Detective Chief Inspector Serrailler suspects a serial killer from the start. His profiling skills, based on the evidence at the scene, are impressive. Sure enough, more murder follows, with Serrailler and his squad desperately trying to catch the cunning killer. The novel is spiked with the killer’s musings, which heighten tension and illuminate a very dark space. Very spooky, tick-tock suspense. --Connie Fletcher --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Not all great novelists can write crime fiction, but when one like Susan Hill does it,the result is stunning." — Ruth Rendell
"As every Trollope reader knows, English cathedral towns can be hotbeds of viciousness and vice. And so it is in Lafferton, where Susan Hill sets her thoughtful mysteries." — The New York Times Book Review
"Hill is a fine writer ... Brooding, downright ominous." — Entertainment Weekly
"Crime fans on the lookout for intelligent examples of the genre will enjoy." — Time Out --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I can only hope that the next installment will bring back the well-crafted plots, lovely prose, and interesting food for thought Hill created in her earlier Serrailler novels.
But this novel, like the previous one, suffers from repetition and digression. Her longstanding concern with death - so brilliantly handled in the death of Chris Deerbon and several other characters' deaths - keeps pushing the detective story to the side. Simon's sometime romance with Rachel is growing tedious, and as another reviewer has said below, the perpetual state of crisis that plagues Cat and her family is starting to strain credulity.
Hill's most compelling energies are devoted to musings about the indignity and complexity of 'natural' deaths from disease rather than from violence. In the Serailler series, the detective element increasingly seems tacked on, even gratuitous. In "A Question of Identity," I found the contrast between the hideously cruel murders and the nuanced emotional effects of ordinary death unsettling at best and offputting at worst.
I hope Hill sorts this out because I've become very attached to her characters and the world she's created.
On another note, she might consider making the self-promoting-faux-book-reviewer Harriet Klausner (see below) her next murder victim. It'll be a hard one to solve - there will be so many amazon.com suspects. ;-)
I am not one of the mystery readers who insist on every plot thread wrapped up by the end of the novel. Indeed, I appreciate when Susan leaves several threads dangling for pick up in a later book. I also like that the author does not shy away from controversial topics like assisted suicide, but explores all aspects and opinions surrounding it. Her method of ending a novel abruptly (no exaggeration there)was startling to me at first, but I have come to appreciate it as part and parcel of her style.
The series, for mystery readers who are casting about for a new-to-them author, is not just police procedural nor forensics investigation for the C.S.I. generation. It is, rather, a whole tale of the people involved including the town itself. My only quibble with the series now, is having to wait for book 8. Well done, Ms. Hill.