I’m a little bit behind in reading the Simon Serailler crime series by Susan Hill; The Shadows in the Street came out last year and a new one is due shortly (in October I think). Probably just a by-product of my reading slump this year as my normal August is Crime Month personal challenge didn’t really happen and this would definitely have been swept up in that.

This was a bit of a slow start for me; a lot of time was spent setting up the characters and context for the crimes that were to follow which although not putting me off did make me slightly impatient and there was certainly not enough of the boy Simon in the first couple of chapters though luckily I like his sister and step-mother who made up for his absence.

So, the story is once again set in Lafferton though this time we see more of the underbelly of the town if I can put it like that; a number of the characters (and indeed three of the victims) are young women who have turned to prostitution either because of drugs or simply no other way to make ends meet. There is a thread of poverty and unemployment and hopelessness that runs through the story which is an interesting contrast to the lives of many of the characters in this series, who if not wealthy are comfortably middle class, and there is a certain amount of looking the other way which is of course not sustainable once the murders begin. The novel also delves into what it is like to be considered a suspect and the impact that can have on your life which was rather sad.

I mentioned in a post here that I found one of the characters to be dreadfully unsympathetic and hoped she would get her comeuppance; of course we learn more about her during the course of the novel and I was a bit harsh (and felt slightly guilty as well) and it just goes to show that I shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

This is a well written police procedural; I wouldn’t say that the story was compelling but I wanted to know what would happen and although (without wanting to give anything away) I was mildly annoyed at one of the plot points towards the end which I thought was a bit too convenient, I didn’t work out who the murderer was and that’s always a good thing in this type of non-puzzle crime novel. But I do think this is one of those series that you really need to read in chronological order because of the Serailler family back story which is so important. And I’ve already pre-ordered the next one.

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