The Benefit of Hindsight is the tenth book in the Simon Serrailler series by Susan Hill and she covers a lot of ground. At the book’s heart, as with its predecessors, is the town of Lafferton and the Serrailler family. Crime, when it happens, affects so many people and Hill shows this effectively as more and more people are drawn into the aftermath.
The themes of this book are post-traumatic-stress-disorder, pre-natal premonition and post-natal depression, art robbery and private v public healthcare. Written in a list it can seem clinical, but Hill is expert at winding together the personal lives of ordinary people so that you care about them. The continuity of the Serrailler family throughout the series adds the familiarity of real family issues that are not crime-related, just ordinary family stuff. Simon is struggling with the aftermath of his injury, not physically, but with panic attacks. His sister Cat has settled into her job with private GP service Concierge and it is Cat who meets two people central to the story; pregnant mum Carrie who unshakingly believes her baby will be born damaged; and Cindy, wife of businessman and charity supporter, Declan McDermid.
When a lonely house is burgled in a professionally assessed and organised operation, Simon’s team consults art and antique experts. A second burglary goes wrong, with far-reaching consequences for Simon. The meaning of the novel’s title is key to the plot affecting brother and sister, as Cat’s patient Carrie remains convinced the doctors are unable to diagnose the hidden disease of her newborn baby. As Carrie’s sense of despair deepens, her introverted husband Colin – who she fears would rather spend his time staring at his computer screen trading money, than talking to her – paces around the room ‘like a zoo animal’. The meaning of the book’s title is an indication that Hill is interested as much in the aftermath of a crime, as in the modus operandi of the crime itself. One of the reasons I enjoy this character-led series is the lack of gratuitous violence, I don’t need to skip paragraphs of gory description or violence. That is not to say the books are not thrilling, but they are deeper explorations of the motives, fears and reactions of everyone affected by crime. Importantly, Simon Serrailler is not a perfect policeman, a perfect man; occasionally he allows his own life and emotions to affect his decision-making and must face the consequences.
Susan Hill delivers yet another Serrailler book that does what it says on the tin. Well-written and plotted, familiar but with an unexpected twist, with Simon being strong and mysterious yet vulnerable.
BUY THE BOOK
Read my reviews of the previous nine 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
The Comforts of Home #9
If you like this, try:-
‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey
‘The Mystery of Three Quarters’ by Sophie Hannah
‘Jellyfish’ by Lev D Lewis
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT by @susanhillwriter #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-46A via @SandraDanby