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The Risk of Darkness: A Simon Serrailler Mystery (Simon Serrailler Crime Novels (Paperback)) Paperback – March 2, 2010
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"An outstanding crime thriller from one of Britain's best writers. Taut, inventive, tragic, intriguing, and full of unexpected twists, it's a must-have for all mystery collections."-Booklist (starred review)
"Hill blends just the right measures of darkness, tension, and human interest...Well-crafted plot and believable characters make this a welcome addition to the series."-Library Journal (starred review)
"An almost flawless novel." -Spectator
About the Author
- Publisher : Harry N. Abrams; Reprint edition (March 2, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1590202902
- ISBN-13 : 978-1590202906
- Item Weight : 10.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.35 x 1.5 x 7.95 inches
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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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.
I don't believe this book is as good as her previous ones...or perhaps I've read too many consecutively.
Hill included side stories that seemed superfluous and meaningless to the main plot. The Max and terminally ill wife story line could have been omitted without compromising the plot at all. I found that story line depressing, distracting and nothing to do with anything. Many police characters were introduced at the beginning never to be referenced again. After finishing the book, I was quite frustrated with the number of incomplete story lines. Did Kyra get the help she needed (and why wasn't more help offered to this poor child)? Did she and her mother ever move away? Did her mother get paid for the story? The Ed story line did not come to a satisfying completion and was left seeming like she was clueless about the enormity of what she had done.
There are too many deaths that seem purposeless and pointless, but rather thrown in to fill pages (for example, the priest's mother). A couple of times the dialogue was confusing. People began talking without any references as to whom was speaking and I had to reread several times to figure it out (frustrating).
I was disappointed that there was not more police procedure involved....more steps in the solving of the crime. The book is a Simon Serrailler Mystery, but there was no mystery in this book.
Again, perhaps I should have taken a break between her books. While I did for the most part enjoy the book because I care about the main characters (Simon and Cat), I found myself impatient to be finished with it.
Another winner from this original author.
Top reviews from other countries
First (at least from what I have seen so far) reading the series in order is essential. That is doubly so for this novel and its predecessor, The Pure in Heart. These two books are, in truth, one story, published in two volumes. Second, don't expect a classic whodunit or a police procedural. Hill is more interested in the effects of crime on her characters, their families and the larger community than she is in the nuts and bolts of detection. The best comparison, I think, would be to some of Ruth Rendell's novels (especially her stand-alones) or to the Norwegian novelist Karin Fossum.
That said, I think these are terrific books: suspenseful, scary, psychologically astute, written in elegant, transparent prose. The protagonist, Simon Serrailler, is not 'likeable,' exactly, but he is intelligent, complex and interesting, while the (many) supporting characters are well drawn and deftly three-dimensional.
The Risk of Darkness is definitely the most somber of the three I've read so far, and in its primary perpetrator gives one of the most chilling depictions of human evil that I have come across recently. Yet Hill always leaves little glimmers of hope amidst the shadows, like votive candles flickering in a darkened cathedral. There is darkness, certainly, but not despair.
From a brief persual of the other reviews, people tend to either love or hate these books. I happen to love them and look forward to reading the rest of the series. Highly recommended.
After three books, I still can't warm to Serrailler, and probably never would if I was going to read the rest, which honestly I don't think I will.
All in all, and compared to other crime novels, this series has been a disappointment.
One thing is clear - Hill is not cut out to be a crime novelist. The writing is good but the book is frustrating as a standalone novel in terms of plot and structure and I have a feeling you would have to invest in buying the whole series to get any sense of plot continuity/closure.
I don't like the dysfunctional middle class Serralier family; Simon is a cold-fish, his sister Cat is a Christian do-gooder, and their triplet brother Ivo is safely out of the way in Australia. Thank God. Their parents are weird, their sister is an early victim and all-in-all the entire family is pretty unlikeable. This is a sort of Aga-Saga for cops and doctors.
The cliff-hangers at the end of each chapter seem to involve some woman or another bursting into tears. It's extremely tedious and rather lazy.
Two stars for being nicely-written, but the endless stereotyping ( Serralier drinks wine and cooks pasta, working-class scrotes, chavs and neds sup beer and eat jam and bread ) really is an insult to one's intelligence.
When I have limped my way to the conclusion of vol three I, too, shall be bursting into floods of tears. But they will be ones of relief at knowing I don't have to read any more.