The Comforts of Home by Susan Hill
For a long time, there had been blackness and the blackness had no form or shape. But then a soft and cloudy greyness had seeped in around the edges of the black, and soon, the images had come and these had moved forward very fast, like the pages of a child's flip book. At first he could not catch any, or distinguish between them, but gradually their movement had slowed and he had made out faces, and parts of bodies--a hand, a thumb, the back of a neck. Hair. The images had begun to pulse, and balloon in and out, like a beating heart, the faces had swirled together, mingled then separated, and once or twice they had leered at him, or laughed silently out of mouths full of broken teeth. he had tried to back away from them or lift his arm to shield his eyes, but he was stiff, his arm heavy and cold, like a joint of meat taken out of the freezer. He did not know how to move it.
The faces had split into fragments and begun to spin uncontrollably, and he had been looking down into a vortex.
A flash of light. Inside the light, millions of glittering, sharp pinpoints. Another flash. The pinpoints had dissolved.
Simon Serrailler opened his eyes.
It's been a long time since Susan Hill added to her DCI Simon Serrailler mystery series. I read the last book, The Soul of Discretion, in mid-2015 and wrote about it here. I wasn't sure that there would be any more visits with Serrailler, his sister Cat and her family, and crime-solving in Lafferton. I'm glad that we weren't quite through.
Simon had been asked to go undercover in prison in the previous book and things had gone very wrong. Most of The Comforts of Home relates his recovery and he spends much of the book on Taransay, an island in the Outer Hebrides. Those islands are a favorite location of mine to read about. In actuality, Taransay is uninhabited for the most part since 1974 except for people on holiday. Simon is asked to help the Scottish Police with an investigation on the island, he's visited by his nephew Sam, and then his new brother-in-law (and boss) Kieran Bright also wants him to look into a cold case. Cat has changed jobs, is considering a new venture and she is getting used to her new husband. Their father, Richard, is a big pain, as usual.
I liked this book and it suited my mood very well. However, it was not particularly suspenseful. Most of the story was about the Serrailler family and two cases that were not all that complicated to solve. As I said, it suited me, but it might not others. I was glad to catch up with the characters. In previous books, this author spent a lot of time relating her opinions of current medical ethics and care in the story, probably too much. She included an update on her medical care opinions here, but didn't beat the reader over the head with it quite as much. I can see where there might be more books, but maybe not. I'll continue to try them as long as she wants to write them.
DCI Simon Serrailler's last, devastating case was nearly the death of him and left him confronting a new reality
Recovering on a remote Scottish island, his peace doesn’t last long. He is pulled in to a murder inquiry by the overstretched local police. A newcomer, popular with the islanders, has died in perplexing circumstances. The community's reactions are complicated and fragile.
It’s good to be back on the job. And when Simon returns to Lafferton, an arsonist is on the rampage and a woman whose daughter disappeared some years before is haunting the police station seeking closure. She will not let it rest, and Simon is called in to do a cold-case review.
At home, Simon is starting to get used to having a new brother-in-law – in the form of his Chief Constable Kieron Bright. His sister Cat has embarked on a new way of practising medicine, and his nephew Sam is trying to work out what to do with his life. And then their tricky father, Richard, turns up again like a bad penny.