Halfway through the book, though, the pace picked up a bit and I was thoroughly invested right to the end. Although labeled a Simon Serrailler book, the lead character is DS Freya Graffham. Ultimately, theres three missing women and they are well developed characters, as are their closest friends.
I loved Susan Hill's The Woman in Black, and so I was excited to read this first book in a series of hers.
As Freya investigates, she also finds a number of other people who have disappeared from The Hill as well. I was underwhelmed by the killers motive and annoyed to have the killer revealed significantly before the end of the book. The end of this book was one that moved it into the category of a wall-banger for me.
This is a classic contemporary British mystery, complete with a cathedral town (Lafferton), a tantalizingly aloof Chief Inspector (Simon Serrailler), and a cast of wonderfully drawn supporting players whose side stories are interesting enough to make you forget the mystery at the heart of the novel.
This first of series book involves the titled DCI and the men and women who work with him in the cathedral town of Lafferton. There is the influx New Age/alternative therapists who may be more con men then healers, there is the missing 22 year old young woman. Key to the investigation is Freya Graffham, new to the Lafferton police, having moved from London, starting a new happier life.
This book forever changed the way I read - and not in a good way. I was so angry with the horrible ending of "Various Haunts", it destroyed my enjoyment of the author's gifted writing. Now, I want to know how a book ends before I read it. Now, I want to know how a book ends before I read it. Her boss, Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler remained much in the background, even though the author meant for him to be the main character since the series is based on Serrailler. But, sadly and shockingly, the ending obliterates any pleasure you may have had reading this "could-have-been-great" novel.
I tend to gobble down mystery novels like peanut M&M's, sometimes without even noticing the colors, if you know what I mean. This is one of those rare finds: a tense, atmospheric novel that reads like the psychotic aunt of your typical British cozy.
I love the atmosphere of a British mystery, the creepiness, the character sketches. I can't remember the last time that a book in this genre really surprised me. I wanted to know what would happen, but I didn't want this book to end.
Hill lets us view the world of alternative medicine, its victims and charlatans, and we also note the dedication of the police investigative team.
Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factories. By this time she had already written her first novel, The Enclosure which was published by Hutchinson in her first year at university. This was followed in quick succession by A Change for the Better, I'm the King of the Castle, The Albatross and other stories, Strange Meeting, The Bird of Night, A Bit of Singing and Dancing and In the Springtime of Year, all written and published between 1968 and 1974.