The Various Haunts of Men, by Susan Hill

A couple of people disappear without trace, and Freya Graffham, a policewoman who's moved to the city of Lafferton after working in the met, is appointed to investigate. Initially the events appear to be unconnected..

This book has been seriously praised as a fantastic crime novel, and was recommended in various places including A Good Read; it's got a flattering puff on the back from Ruth Rendell. So I'd been looking forward to it.

But it was a distinctly average police investigating serial killer story. The serial killer, who's identity is not revealed until some way through the book, does make appearance throughout the book in the form of first-person semi-loony ramblings about the importance of his/her mission etc., how people misunderstand and will one day come to appreciate the scientific value of what he/she's doing - very unoriginal stuff (unless this was the first ever book to do this).

So I can't see why this book was so highly rated. Maybe it is for the atmosphere and description of the characters (there's quite a lot of time spent giving background and life-stories for the eventual victims) but from the point of view of a crime-thriller it was distinctly average. I'd think of it as being a readable Val McDermid-lite.

This is the first "Simon Serrailler" novel (he's Freya's superior, but doesn't actually figure as prominently as Freya), and so maybe the others in the series are better and make you look back at this one fondly. I might try another one, but not rushing out for it.

Completed : 19-Jun-2014

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