18 October 2008

Review: THE VOWS OF SILENCE, Susan Hill

Chattow & Windus, 2008, ISBN 978-0-701-17999-1, 328 pages

Now that their honeymoon is over Craig Drew has had to return to work. But his new wife Melanie has a couple more days off, unwrapping the wedding presents, writing the thankyou letters, clearing the spare room of boxes, and setting their house up. Tonight she's making a Thai chicken recipe that she knows Craig will love. But Craig never gets to eat it. When Melanie returns to the house after shopping for ingredients someone follows her.

When the death of young Melanie Drew is followed by the shooting of two girls attending a hen's night, it occurs to Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler that the events may be connected, but just what is the thread?

THE VOWS OF SILENCE is #4 in Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler series, and will not disappoint those who are already fans. If you've not read any of the series before, by all means go ahead and find this one, but I warn you, you will be adding the other three to your "wanted" list.

As with the earlier books in the series there is plenty going on in THE VOWS OF SILENCE apart from the murder mystery thread. Throughout the book we on occasion see the world through the mind and eyes of the murderer, but I really didn't pick up on clues about who he was. Perhaps a more discerning reader would. I'm sure Hercules Poirot would have known!

Then there's another thread that weaves it's way and holds the novel together. A lonely woman looking for a soulmate finds just what she is looking for through an internet dating agency. This story is counterbalanced by that of Richard Serrailler. Simon's father, whose wife died only a year ago, has found a new woman. In both cases the "children" have mixed reactions to these burgeoning romances. There's more, but you'll have to read them for yourself! Enjoy the sens of family and community that Susan Hill has created around her central character, Simon Serrailler.

Last week I struggled my way through the book I was reading. But there was no struggle with THE VOWS OF SILENCE. Susan Hill has a style that flows, so easy to read, my reading "soul" felt it had come home! I haven't yet tried any of her non crime novels (see the list at Fantastic Fiction). Perhaps I should, but then if I'm not reading crime fiction, a little voice keeps saying why are you doing this when there are so many good crime fiction books waiting?

The Simon Serrailler series in order:
THE VARIOUS HAUNTS OF MEN (2004), my rating: 4.6
THE PURE IN HEART (2005), my rating: 4.7
THE RISK OF DARKNESS (2006), my rating: 4.7
THE VOWS OF SILENCE (2008), my rating 4.7

Her website is at http://www.susan-hill.com/ but sadly her blog has disappeared. The website is looking rather neglected too which is a pity.
Below is a promo for The Man in The Picture, a ghost story.

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