The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill ***slight spoiler***

Laying in the backyard, watching the grass grow long past the point where it needs to be mowed,   and drinking a bottle of Jersey Peach wine, I finished this book.  If you would have asked me, up to around Chapter 40 I would have have said, “Great mystery, good read, 4 stars.”  Unfortunately I continued reading for another 14 chapters and the book dropped down to a 3 star.

The main character Simon Serrailler is almost incidental in some ways, he is not the main investigator for the crime, but this is the first in the series so that might account for that.  He is a good character, isolated somewhat from his family due to his life choices, divided into policman and artist, and afraid of commitment or maybe just unaware of the possibility.  He comes across as an good police officer, a fair boss, an all round decent human being.  Other characters are equally appealing, Freya, Nathan, and Cat to name a few.

The issue for me is that the reveal (to the reader anyway) occurs in a separate piece just prior to Chapter 39, but then the book goes on and on, until chapter 54 and in the end we still really don’t know why.  It most definitely was the author’s purpose to leave it that way, making the statement that we never really know another human being and often we are in the dark about people’s motivations, but it just didn’t work for me.   Certain segments in the book are told in a form of a final confession letter/journal written by the villain and so hints of his motivations, mad though he may be, are peppered throughout them.  It just was frustrating to me that they were not followed up on or resolved.  On the last page Simon is thinking about the murderer and has this one thought that made it clear that this was all very purposeful of the author:

“Cat had said that his kind could only be left to the understanding of God.  Simon wondered.”

Interesting characters and a page turner, but frustrating to me as a reader.

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2 thoughts on “The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill ***slight spoiler***

  1. Book Blather says:

    The biggest enemy of this sort of novel is a lack of suspense, sounds like the author misjudged this one. Sorry.

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