Sunday, February 8, 2015
The Various Haunts Of Men by Susan Hill
I totally loved listening to Susan Hill's first Simon Serrailler mystery, The Various Haunts of Men. Truly. Just a peach of a book. I've been meaning to read this series for a long, long time and have not ever picked it up. Listening is a wonderful way to experience this author's writing. The narrator, Steven Pacey, does an excellent job. His voice is well modulated and so very British. No weirdness when he does the female voices. It's soothing, but doesn't put you to sleep.
The setting is Lafferton, a cathedral town that also has a tor. Reminded me of Glastonbury as I guess it's supposed to. The area has a plethora of new age devotees, healers of all sorts, alternative lifestyles and medicines, practitioners named things like "Darva" and psychics and even a psychic surgeon, whatever that is supposed to be. In this initial book, the author introduces us to Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler, his team, and his family. Simon is one of triplets. His brother and sister are medical doctors, like both his parents. He is the odd man out in many respects. A policeman and an artist. There is a younger sister, Martha, that is mentioned, but she lives in a care home for disabled individuals.
DCI Serrailler has a new Detective Sergeant named Freya Graffham, who has recently come to Lafferton from the "Met" in London. She joins the area choir with Serrailer's mother and gets to know his sister, Dr. Cat Deerbon. She also is assigned to investigate some women who have gone missing. Freya has a hunch that these women did not go off on their own and she pursues her investigation doggedly. And then more individuals go missing. Several of them have visited some of the alternative practitioners that abound in the area. Is all of this connected? Meanwhile, the reader is apprised of some of the notes of the one who is indeed "practicing" on the missing people. And Freya herself is getting really too close.
I loved the descriptions of the area, the introduction to the Serrailler family as a whole and to the Lafferton CID as well. DC Nathan Coates, who assists Freya in her inquiries, is cute and funny and irreverent. Simon Serrailer seems kind, if distant, and he's certainly not a "chip off the old block". I enjoyed the presentation of various types of alternative treatments, even the psychic surgeon. And included with all of this is a very intriguing mystery. The story takes it's time and doesn't rush, but by the end I was not even looking for excuses to listen. I was just listening, wanting to know how things would be resolved. A definite winner for me.
I enjoyed this book so much, I have moved right on to the next book in the series, The Pure In Heart. Happily, this series has 8 books at this point and I have lots of good reading or listening to come.