Thursday, April 1, 2010

a review of "The Risk of Darkness" [23] and "The Vows of Silence" [24]

The Risk of Darkness- A Simon Serrailler Mystery by Susan Hill
(The Overlook Press, ISBN 978-1-58567-927-0)

In this, the third in the Sellailler series, one of my favorite police inspectors is back, and finally, for those of you that might have read the second book and been a bit dissatisfied by the ending, we has a conclusion to the crime of the abducted children. And quite a interesting conclusion it is, not one I expected at all. Nor did I suspect that we would have the solution within the first 70 pages of the book.

But fear not. As in the previous books of the series, there are any number of other issues, other storylines, to be explored and in this book, the solution of the crime is just the beginning of the story. It is one of the strength of this author, of this series, is that all these various plots can be explores without ever becoming confusing. Of course, not surprisingly, death is at the center of so many of these stories. The heartbreaking reaction of a family to death, a man driven mad by the loss of the one he loves to a horrible illness and even Simon again see death and loss touch his life in several ways. A fine continuation of this series.

The Vows of Silence by Susan Hill
(The Overlook Press, ISBN 978-1-59020-245-6)

In this, the fourth in the series, the town of Lafferton is being terrorized by a gunman. A woman is killed in her house with a handgun, another shot by a sniper and, to the police, the shootings appear to be random. And while the killer is perused throughout the book and as in previous books, there are given some narrative from the killer point of view, once again the crime is not at the heart of this book. Yes, death is, but not death by murder, and once again our favorite police detective Simon Serrailler will be personally touched.

Now, if you have read my reviews of the three previous books in this series, you know I am a fan of Ms. Hill's book. And I will continue to be a fan and anxiously await the next book that will be released in September. But...I have to say this is perhaps my least favorite of the four books so far.

Yes, death is always central to these books, hardly surprising in a mystery or thriller. But in "Vow", the presence of death, in many terrible forms, just seems to become overwhelming. And then there is the issue of suicide and euthanasia, a topic Ms. Hill has taken up before and that comes back with a vengeance in this installment. Honestly, the whole thing became a bit depressing, and oddly enough, depressing is not something I am looking for in a murder mystery. Even in these rather non-traditional mysteries. Also this book seemed to lack that surprising element, that totally unexpected event that was a wonderful element in the previous books. That being said, I still think Simon and his family and acquaintances are excellent characters, I love the cathedral town of Lafferton and I will indeed be back for the next episode.

If you have not read any of the books in this series, I must say that this is one series that really must be read in order. These books are written in order and if you are to have a chance of understanding the characters, you must get to know their history and that means starting at the very, very good first book, The Various Haunts of Men. Once you get to know Simon and the rest, will be so vested in them that you will even forgive them one book that was not up to the very high standards of the rest.

Yes, once again, my thanks to my local library for these books.


  1. I have been meaning to read this series. I own a couple of them. Thanks for mentioning to read them in order (I don't always do that).

  2. I read out of order on occasion...but this is a series you really must do in order for maximum benefit.

  3. I have been meaning to read this series for quite some time as well. I appreciate your advice to definitely read them in order. Appreciated the reviews!

  4. Yes, Hill's reputation precedes her. I'd love to take on this commitment - this is my genre. You know, I've noticed that ever since I've started blogging, I've not taken on a new series. I used to do that all the everything from a series. Usually over the summer. Argh.

  5. I love this genre too and I'm a serial reader, even when it's not necessary. I'm adding Susan Hill to my list of authors to try.

  6. Must read series, will try. Thanks!

  7. One thing I like about this series is that there are only 4 books so far. Four books is doable.
    When I look at a series with 12 or 15...I hesitate to start it

  8. I got Book 2 from Paperback Swap and now just need to get into it! I should check my library for the rest of them ... they aren't easy to find on the swap sites. Glad to hear they continue to be excellent.


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