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The Shadows In The Street

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Looking for an audiobook in the library I spotted this by Susan Hill, and took it out without a second glance - and so hadn't noticed it was one of the Simon Serrailler series. I'm a bit cross with myself, as I would have preferred to start with the first in the series.


This is the hunt for the serial killer of prostitutes in the cathedral town where Serrailler lives (although he is away on leave for the first few chapters). It brought to mind the almost local case in 2008 of the girls killed in Ipswich - and presumably it was the starting point for this novel in Susan Hill's mind, as it was published in 2010. I was a bit uncomfortable with that association, although the killer in the book branches out a bit.


There are some 'obvious' suspects, especially in light of the Ipswich case, but I couldn't believe she'd be that crass. I did figure out who the murderer was before the reveal, but it was probably the least likely suspect.

There are some touches of Barchester (which are acknowledged) in the Cathedral politics, which was mildly amusing.

What I found immensely irritating was the frequent use of the phrase "You do understand that, don't you?" I can't quite remember if it was Serrailler himself, or his GP sister , or both who used it, and don't know if I would have been just as irritated by it on the page, but hearing it so often almost had me throwing the CDplayer at the wall.

Someone please tell me that this patronising phrase is not a feature of all the books in the series, because I'll give the rest a miss if that's the case.

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I'll have to check my copy of The Shadows in the Streets about who said it, but I can't remember being unduely irritated throughout the series (I've read them all) so I don't think 'You do understand that...' is a feature of all the books so you're safe to start from the beginning!


That said, there's no doubt,  in my mind anyway, that the earlier books are much better than the later ones.  The first is genuinely surprising and a fantastic page turner, as they progress they become more "issue" based and there's too much focus on Simon Serrailier's family which unbalances them, they are supposed to be crime stories after all! The first three, however, are very good indeed.

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  • 5 months later...

This is another book in Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler crime series and follows much the same course as the previous books. As in many of the others Serrailler plays a rather small part in the first part of the book as he is away on sabbatical on a Scottish island. While he is away we catch up with his sister Cat, a GP struggling with a family of three young children while coping with the grief of the loss of her husband. For me Cat is by far and away the most interesting character portrayed in these books and although Serrailler seemed a little less unapproachable in this novel than he has been in others I am still a little unsure exactly what Susan Hill wishes to achieve with this character. Maybe she does not wish to achieve anything, just uses Serrailler and his family as a vehicle around which to hang the crimes.

Once again the workings of cathederal life and the the changes taking place within the church play a part. The story is based upon the murders of two prostitutes. Although the murders are treated seperately it is of course wondered if they could be the work of the same person and the beginning of a series of crimes against "women of the night". The wife of the Dean of the cathederal then goes missing changing the view of the investigators completely.

As is usual with these novels other issues apart from the crime itself are dealt with by Hill and in many ways the solving of the crime is almost a secondary function of the story. Once again the book was easy to read and cleverly put together. I find the Serrailler family and the varying relationships within in the family absorbing reading and as the series continues I am finding myself caring about them more and more. I think that I have read five of these books now and fully intend to continue.

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  • 7 months later...

Just finished this, which I believe is the fifth book in this series, and again enjoyed it as I have the previous books.  They are by no means heavy reading, and I would say that, five books into the series, I am not sure quite how accurately they fit into the 'crime' genre, as perhaps other writers and series do.  Serrailler continues to be this enigmatic loner figure, although at times in this tale he appears to be softening somewhat, but I never quite get the feeling that, as a supposed crack detective chief superintendent, he actually solves anything through the brilliance or intelligence that others seem to perceive in him.  In fact, in this instance, the killer pretty much handed it to him on a plate.


For all that though, I enjoy the element of relationships within his family, not always easy ones, but do wonder how many 'issues' can be hung on one family.  No doubt that I will continue with this series, probably coming back to it between, say, every third or fourth other read in order to keep up with it.

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