EXCERPT: By seven o’clock the tide was going out from the small bay below the field centre, but it was not until after seven that four intrepid swimmers were on their way down to the water, all wearing wetsuits – they had been warned how cold the sea would be. The first two raced ahead and plunged in, following a wave to launch themselves, the next was not far behind, but then Laura Roberts felt her foot come up against a concealed rock and fell sprawling on the hard sand. She lay until it was clear that she had done herself little harm, though she would probably have bruised toes the next day. The others were shouting with laughter, their voices faint against the drag of the waves.
She rolled over and looked along the flat sand, and as she looked, she saw it. She had read about it. The mistakes people made. A big fish. A log. A seal. Part of a boat. She got up and went slowly along the few yards of beach. Slowed as she got nearer. She made herself look. Took a few steps. The tide was going out but a few foam edged waves were washing over it. Gentle waves. Washing it clean.
She did not remember passing out, only that she came to with Chloe and Angus leaning over her and Ade standing peering down at the woman’s body.
ABOUT THIS BOOK: DC Simon Serrailler’s last, devastating case was nearly the death of him and left him confronting a new reality
Recovering on a remote Scottish island, his peace doesn’t last long. He is pulled in to a murder inquiry by the overstretched local police. A newcomer, popular with the islanders, has died in perplexing circumstances. The community’s reactions are complicated and fragile.
It’s good to be back on the job. And when Simon returns to Lafferton, an arsonist is on the rampage and a woman whose daughter disappeared some years before is haunting the police station seeking closure. She will not let it rest, and Simon is called in to do a cold-case review.
At home, Simon is starting to get used to having a new brother-in-law – in the form of his Chief Constable Kieron Bright. His sister Cat has embarked on a new way of practising medicine, and his nephew Sam is trying to work out what to do with his life. And then their tricky father, Richard, turns up again like a bad penny.
In this gripping new Serrailler thriller, Simon’s personal and professional lives intertwine in more complex and demanding ways than ever before.
MY THOUGHTS: I picked this up yesterday morning and read it in one day, despite having had to go to work for the morning. I could not put it down, but then Susan Hill has that effect on me. She doesn’t tie everything up nice and neatly at the end. There are always loose threads, unresolved issues to be carried over into the next book, and this is why this series should be read in order from the beginning.
Sometimes I feel that I know Simon Serrailler’s family more thoroughly than I know my own. Sometimes I don’t actually like Simon all that much. He is careless of other people’s feelings. He ignores people. He takes advantage of his sister Cat’s good nature. He is completely self-absorbed. I sometimes wonder if he is borderline Aspergers, or if he is just a complete shit. But he is very good at what he does.
This is not just a detective series. It is every bit as much a family saga, one that I am in no hurry to see end.
THE AUTHOR: Susan Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1942. Her hometown was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and some short stories especially “Cockles and Mussels”.
She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factories. Hill states that she attended a girls’ grammar school, Barr’s Hill. Her fellow pupils included Jennifer Page, the first Chief Executive of the Millennium Dome. At Barrs Hill she took A levels in English, French, History and Latin, proceeding to an English degree at King’s College London. By this time she had already written her first novel, The Enclosure which was published by Hutchinson in her first year at university. The novel was criticised by The Daily Mail for its sexual content, with the suggestion that writing in this style was unsuitable for a “schoolgirl”.
Her next novel Gentleman and Ladies was published in 1968. 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.
In 1975 she married Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells and they moved to Stratford upon Avon. Their first daughter, Jessica, was born in 1977 and their second daughter, Clemency, was born in 1985. Hill has recently founded her own publishing company, Long Barn Books, which has published one work of fiction per year.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for buying a copy of of The Comforts of Home by Susan Hill at my request so that I was able to read and review it. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2582671776