Various Haunts of Men review

Goodreads says:

A lonely woman of fifty-three vanishes in fog; a fat twenty-two-year-old never returns from an early morning walk . . .
Experienced policemen know that most missing persons either turn up or go missing on purpose. But fresh young D.S. Freya Graffham won’t drop it — until she discovers what links the people who disappear on “The Hill,” young and old, men and women, even a little dog. Susan Hill writes with compassion, humour and a unique understanding of the details of daily life.

Well, what to say about this book.  It is the first in the Simon Serrailer series from Susan Hill.  As you recall, I loved the book “Woman in Black” and couldn’t wait to see the movie so I was anxious to read this story.  I finished it about an hour ago and then took the dogs for a walk so I could mull it over.  I don’t want the ending to cloud my review.

Let me fill you in more of the plot as it is what drew me to the book.  Several people (and one dog) go up “The Hill” hiking, jogging, biking, etc., to never be seen again.  No trace is found, no indication of where they went or what happened to them – they simply vanish into thin air.  Police are slow to jump on the bandwagon because they feel that missing adults are low priority – usually adults show up eventually with a perfectly good reason for being gone – so they said.  It was a waste of police resources to jump on missing adult cases – it was better to let them stew for a while to see if the situation will resolve itself.  Freya, a new detective, disagrees and pursues the missing people with a single-mindedness that would make any police officer proud.

I enjoyed the story once it got moving.  The first hundred pages seemed rather boring to me but it did pick up after that so the last 2oo went by pretty quickly.  Susan wrote about the town of Lafferton in such detail that I could pretty much visualize it in my head – along with “The Hill” that had ancient stones at the top for people to meditate on if they were fit enough to make it up there.  In all, the setting for the story sounded like a place I would enjoy living.

Freya was well done – I liked her instantly.  My problem with the book – other than the ending – is that Simon Serrailer had a bit part in the entire thing.  How can this be a new Simon Serrailer series if the man doesn’t do anything for the most part? I was disappointed in his lack of involvement and didn’t feel his character was strongly presented.

I did guess the killer within the first 100 pages because of the large hint Susan dropped in passing.  I didn’t find this disappointing – the guy was very creepy.  Susan did a great job and the book is worth reading – I guess I was disappointed in the beginning that it wasn’t as good as The Woman in Black.  However, once I accepted that, I enjoyed the book more.  I give the book an A because the writing is stylish and the intensity does build until the climax.  The ending still bothers me as it seemed too cut and dry – all the loose ends were neatly tied in a bow which seems a bit patronizing to me.  Still you will not guess the ending – no way – so that made it unique.



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