Lafferton, the small town at the heart of the Simon Serrailler crime novels by Susan Hill, has until now only known small-scale drugs crime. In A Change of Circumstance, a young local man is found dead of a presumed overdose in a flat above the Chinese pharmacy in neighbouring hippy village Starley. County lines drug gangs are using local Lafferton children and people are beginning to die. This is the eleventh instalment of this excellent series. Hill’s Serrailler novels are always a delight to read, thoroughly grounded in the town of Lafferton with familiar characters and landmarks set against beautiful countryside. A reminder that crime happens in pretty places too. I wasn’t so sure about the veracity of some of the police procedure but the stories of Brookie and Olivia feel real enough, both children from fractured families pulled into crime by lies and bribes. A Change of Circumstance is a horrible portrayal of the manipulation and abuse of children but lacking in the narrative drive of earlier books. I finished it quickly but it is short – 315 pages compared with first in the series The Various Haunts of Men which is 448 pages long.
As always, a network of minor storylines add depth and colour to the main themes and Simon’s sister Cat is the beating heart of the drama. Now a GP for a private doctors’ service, she is called out to an elderly man who refuses to go into hospital. Her Yorkie terrier Wookie goes missing while son Sam is home from medical school and being secretive about his study plans. Small details that add to the real life feeling of the series, typical family life.
It’s an odd ending to the drugs case, almost as if a television drama stopped five minutes before the end. I felt slightly let down in not seeing the arrest of the guilty party, instead it is more a hint than an action scene and I missed that final feeling of justice done. The ending to Simon’s story is the change of circumstance of the title. I’m still not quite convinced but it will add a new angle to the next Serrailler story.
BUY THE BOOK
Read my reviews of the previous ten 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
THE BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT #10
If you like this, try:-
‘Magpie Murders’ by Anthony Horowitz #1SusanRyeland
‘The Killings at Kingfisher Hill’ by Sophie Hannah #4Poirot
‘The Killing Lessons’ by Saul Black
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCE @susanhillwriter #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5vO via @SandraDanby