Tag Archives: Susan Hill

#BookReview ‘A Change of Circumstance’ @susanhillwriter #crime

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. Susan HillHill’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.

Read my reviews of the previous ten novels in the series:-

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

#BookReview ‘The Benefit of Hindsight’ by @susanhillwriter #crime

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. Susan Hill

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.

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