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Friday, June 5, 2015

A Question Of Identity by Susan Hill

A Question Of Identity is the 7th book in Susan Hill's mystery series that I've been making my way through this year.  It tells the story of the Serrailler family, the cathedral town of Lafferton, and of crimes to be solved and moral questions to be considered.  I listened to this book on audio with the ever wonderful Steven Pacey as the narrator.

A Question Of Identity begins with a trial that occurred 10 years prior.  A man has been charged with the murders of 3 elderly women.  The case seems quite solid and the police are feeling confident that this serial killer has been apprehended and will be found guilty.  However, things don't work out that way.  A witness is confused, a defense attorney is tricky, and the jury acquits the man.  For his own protection, the police and then Special Branch or whoever handles witness protection in Britain, take the man away and give him a new identity, a new life.  He can't go back to his old life, even though he was found not guilty, because the public is incensed and would likely attack and possibly kill him.

We shift to Lafferton and the present day, 10 years later.  DCS Simon Serrailler is on a week away with his nephew, Sam.  Simon's sister, Cat, is settling into a new routine at the hospice where she works.  Her lodger and helper, medical student Molly, is still trying to recover from the events of the previous book and not doing very well.  Cat's young daughter, Hannah, is up for a part in an actual movie and excited beyond all measure.  Cat's children have adjusted somewhat to the death of their father, but Sam is still having lots of issues.  Cat and Simon's father and stepmother are having problems - serious problems - but the others don't know of that yet.  Life has gone on and then Simon receives a call to return to work.

An elderly woman has been murdered.  Killed in a very particular way.  Though Simon and his team don't know it yet, crimes such as this have happened before.  And it's a while before they are able to ascertain this.  When someone is given a new identity, their previous self is wiped out, erased, changed - or is it?

A Question Of Identity was concerned with many issues - the plight of the elderly, more musings about end of life questions and whether hospice should be an in-patient endeavor or shifted to home care (because of money), and there are some hints of domestic issues of bullying and violence.  Several characters are struggling with identity issues - deciding who they are and what paths they want to take.  The crimes against the elderly women were troubling and we were 'treated' to the thought processes of the killer.  We could surmise that the killer was the person acquitted of similar crimes in the past, but we had no idea of his new identity.

I liked this well enough.  I did not have as many issues with Simon himself this time.  I did have some issues with Cat's children and with some other family members.  The mystery part of things was not particularly gripping and seemed to go on and on, but mostly I really didn't like hearing the killer's thoughts so frequently.  I did guess who he was.  I'll freely admit that I am now continuing this series more for the character development than for the mystery angle.  And, yes, I'll read the most current book in the series, The Soul Of Discretion, mostly to say that I'm caught up.  I've enjoyed this series, but feel it has lost a bit over the course of things.  However, I'm always hopeful and so will think good thoughts about the most recent book.

12 comments:

  1. I had much the same reaction to this book. I've looked at the next book, but decided not to read it.

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    1. I understand, Margaret. The next book has tough subject matter.

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  2. Hmm, I have the first book in this series and have it listed as a possible read for this month. Thanks for being honest and I will read it but not sure how far I will go in the series. I know from past reviews that you did really enjoy her writing.

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    1. I do enjoy her writing. Guess when a series is long running, it's hard to like each book equally.

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  3. This one sounds like a book I'd enjoy! Thanks....

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    1. You might like this series, Laurel.

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  4. I have found myself continuing a series simply because I'm fond of characters or want to see how (and if) they continue to develop. I do think, however, that sometimes authors should just give it over and develop a new series, and I've often wished an author would develop a series around a secondary character that interests me.

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    1. Yes, I'm kind of wondering how many more she'll do with these characters. Although, now that I've finished the next book, there are definite changes.

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  5. I missed a fair few books in this series but really enjoyed Soul of Discretion when I read it last week. I liked the multitude of well-drawn characters probably more than the mystery element...

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    1. Yes, I've now finished Soul of Discretion. Wow. Lots of new angles on things.

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  6. I find that it is often the characters that keep me coming back to certain series, and not so much the mysteries themselves. I get so attached to them.

    I may have to look for the audio version of these books. As awful as I am with getting through audio books though, I don't know if that's a good idea.

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    1. The characters are the main reason that I have enjoyed this series so much. Her crimes are well enough done and some of the books are quite compelling in the action area, but it's the characters really for me.

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Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy to hear your thoughts and will respond as soon as I can. Happy Reading!