Another Simon Serrailler novel by Susan Hill? I admit to excitement at this, the ninth outing for the Lafferton detective. It is three years since the eighth novel, The Soul of Discretion, and I feared Hill wanted to write about other things and there would be no more. And now, The Comforts of Home. I saved it to read on holiday, in the same way as a child I saved my favourite chocolate bar from my Christmas Selection Box. To be enjoyed at leisure.
I admit to forgetting how The Soul of Discretion ended, so the beginning was rather a shock but also fascinating. After life-changing surgery, Serrailler goes to the remote Scottish island of Taransay to convalesce. The descriptions of this bleak but beautiful place made me want to go there. He is quickly accepted by the tight-knit community where mutual support is a necessity, where consequently everyone knows everyone else’s lives in minutiae, but where you know a death is inevitable. As temporary cop-in-charge, given the local force’s short-handedness, Serrailler uncovers a secret no one had guessed.
Serrailler’s injury beings a new layer of damage to his solitary wounded soul, he would rather get up and face the day rather than sit and talk to a counsellor. One of the secrets of this successful series is the combination of crime with the family story of Simon and his sister Cat. Cat is finding locum work unsatisfying and is looking for a new challenge. Her new marriage, to Serrailler’s boss Kieran, is happy and the only shadow on the horizon is the return from France of her irascible father Richard.
Add to this mixture a local arsonist, a mother who presses for the reopening of the investigation of her daughter’s disappearance, a convicted murderer, a rookie detective constable, and Cat’s teenage son Sam who can’t decide what he wants to do with his life, and Hill delivers her clever blend of crime, detection and domestic daily life.
Excellent. A masterclass is how to write a thriller which keeps you reading, makes you love the familiar characters, never tells you what’s happening but let’s you work it out, and poses moral dilemmas.
Read my reviews of the previous eight novels in the series:-
The Various Haunts of Men #1
The Pure in Heart #2
The Risk of Darkness #3
The Vows of Silence #4
The Shadows in the Street #5
The Betrayal of Trust #6
A Question of Identity #7
The Soul of Discretion #8
If you like this, try:-
‘Cover Her Face’ by PD James
‘One False Move’ by Harlan Coben
‘Wilderness’ by Campbell Hart
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE COMFORTS OF HOME by @susanhillwriter #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3yc via @SandraDanby