Sunday, April 3, 2011

Back to Lafferton, again

The Risk of Darkness, Susan Hill

I am still working my way through the Simon Serrailler series.  As with Louise Penny's marvelous books, I'm finding that I don't want to rush to the next one, but to take some time before returning again to Lafferton.

This third book has several different story lines that weave together across the book.  While grounded in Lafferton, much of the action moves away as the hunt continues for the killer of the child David Angus, whose disappearance was left unsolved at the end of The Pure in Heart.  Another child has disappeared, in Yorkshire this time, and Simon spends his time back and forth working the cases. We also get the continuing stories of his family, particularly Cat, whose husband is restless and burning out in the demands of the medical system.

The identity of the killer is revealed fairly early, after a heart-pounding seaside rescue.  There is a twist to that identity that caught me completely off-guard and sent me back to the start of the book to re-read in light of the revelation.  Much of the book is concerned with building the case to answer, and with the killer's mother and step-father, struggling to accept what they have learned.

Among the new characters introduced is Jane, a young woman priest at the Cathedral.  She gets caught up in another story threading through the book, that of Cat's patients Max and his dying wife Lizzie.  Max's delusional grief leads him to violence, which draws Simon in.  At the same time, in yet another thread, Jane's mother in London is viciously attacked.  Simon feels an immediate connection to Jane, and I was disappointed that at the end of the book she seems to have disappeared as completely as Freya (though not as finally).  Simon also loses a co-worker to a promotion, and Cat's family (temporarily) to Australia, and there is another death in his family as well.  He doesn't have many personal connections, or much success at making new ones.

Two more books in the series, and hopefully more to come.

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Thank you for taking the time to read, and to comment. I always enjoy hearing different points of view about the books I am reading, even if we disagree!