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  • The Various Haunts of Men

  • Simon Serrailler 1
  • By: Susan Hill
  • Narrated by: Steven Pacey
  • Length: 14 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (2,650 ratings)

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The Various Haunts of Men cover art

The Various Haunts of Men

By: Susan Hill
Narrated by: Steven Pacey
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Summary

A woman vanishes in the fog up on "the Hill", an area locally known for its tranquillity and peace. The police are not alarmed; people usually disappear for their own reasons. But when a young girl, an old man, and even a dog disappear, no one can deny that something untoward is happening in this quiet cathedral town. Young policewoman Freya Graffham is assigned to the case; she's new to the job, compassionate, inquisitive, dedicated, and needs to know, perhaps, too much. She and the enigmatic detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler have the task of unravelling the mystery behind this gruesome sequence of events. From the passages revealing the killer's mind to the final heart-stopping twist, The Various Haunts of Men is an astounding and masterly crime debut and is the first in what promises to be a magnificent series featuring Simon Serrailler.

You should listen to Susan Hill's brilliant Simon Serrailler trilogy in the correct order which is as follows:

  • Book 1: The Various Haunts of Men
  • Book 2: The Pure in Heart
  • Book 3: The Risk of Darkness
©2004 Susan Hill (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Various Haunts of Men

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Wish I liked it more; hope to do better.

Susan Hill's early novels were of the serious sort still labelled 'literary' and I devoured them when they appeared. I became aware that she had turned herself into a more 'popular' author when she started a stint as scriptwriter on The Archers. This is the first book of hers I have read since then.

I don't read many crime novels, because I expect to find them formulaic, like so many TV shows. 'The Various Haunts of Men' is certainly a strongly characterised, rather surprising story - for one thing, a highly sympathetic character is killed off - and death is deeply felt, not just material for a puzzle.

My reservation, though, is that the author appears to be too fond of some of her people, making them almost cloyingly altruistic and unrelievedly kind, like the worst sort of soap-opera stalwarts. She depicts the police as 100% dedicated, unprejudiced public servants, which really they are not. Her female characters seem to be over-busy for a novel - always doing drop-scones and meticulously making beverages; which is rather a lazy way for a writer to imply the ordinary background to extraordinary events.

Despite these peevish criticisms, I was glad to have downloaded the book. It had a strong sense of place, one I look forward to revisiting in the sequels. Steven Pacey is an excellent reader, reminding me of the superb David Timson.

I disagree with two points made by other reviewers. First, I am fed up of every piece of art or entertainment being classified as 'for women/men'. This stupid commodification of EVERYTHING by the gender binary is just another marketing ploy that most people seem happy to buy into. Come on, we are all human beings, and we all need stories. There's a middle ground, and this book belongs in it, as do most well-written novels. Secondly, the ending of Susan Hill's book is perfectly in tune with tone of her narrative, which stresses psychological development, not merely suspense and satisfying retribution.




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78 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An unusual way to start a series

To start a crime series with a book that gives you quite a small glimpse of the central detective is definitely something that bit different. I heard about the Simon Serraller series via one of my favourite Radio 4 programmes "A Good Read" and the panel's discussion really made me prick up my ears. I was delighted to discover that the series was on audible and believe the whole experience has been made even better by an absolutely tremendous reader that I have not come across before. Full marks to Steven Pacey. I became absolutely wrapped up in the characters of this story, in the little details of their lives, some of which of course cleverly mirror your own. I think I am right in remembering another reviewer saying the end was poor and I too feel it lost its way a little. Having said that the main element of the 'end' will I am sure surprise you as much as it did me. I certainly hadn't seen it coming.

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41 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

excellent

I couldn't put it down. Brilliant narrator, no stumbles or stutters apparent. Good plot and interesting characters who could be easily visualised. Would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery.

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39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good solid crime story

A good solid crime story with lots of dark corners to explore and some neat pen-portraits. So why only 4 stars? I felt the characters of Simon Serrailler and Freya Graffam to be a little cliche. There was a little bit too much of "woman escaping bad relationship to start again" in Freya and a little too much of the strong silent enigmatic alpha-male about Simon. Put those two aspects together and at times there were sections which read like a formulaic romance novel rather than a murder mystery. No reason why an author cannot have both romance and murder in one novel, but it needs to be done with more finesses than it is here. But that cannot take away from a sound plot and some other interesting characters. The ending is also good. I had already formed in my mind where the sequels would go with the characters only to have the rug pulled out from under me! Definately worth a read but bear in mind the peculiar treatment of the two main characters and read past the cliches if you can.

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32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An unusual crime thriller

It took me a little time to get into this story, but once I did I was hooked into nearly 15 hours of a complex and surprising story. Susan Hill has avoided many of the cliches of crime fiction creating well-rounded and believable characters, including the police men and women. Unlike real-life, as befits the genre, the crimes are meticulously planned by a highly intelligent psychopath. I didn't twig who this was until it was revealed near the end of the book.
It's not just a well-crafted crime thriller, but also explores alternative versus conventional medical treatments as part of the fabric of the story. Initially I was concerned that the author might be trying to encourage patients with serious conditions, such as cancer, to try alternative medicine in place of effective treatments, but was relieved that this turned out not to be the case.
Steven Pacey's reading of the book is superb: he brings the different voices convincingly to life. I don't know how these readers manage it, but the best of them can switch from being female to male; young to old; regional accent to accent without caricaturing their voice.

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32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Very well read

This was very well read and enjoyable. However, I felt that, suddenly, the author ran out of steam and interest as the ending was rather abrupt and various story lines were left in the air. Up to this point it was very engrossing. Suitable for both men and women.

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24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Every word counts.........

This is a beautifully written book, and beautifully read. The characters are rounded and recognisable. These are the people we meet in our daily lives who are dealing with tragedy. The plot is lively and there are twists and turns. I enjoyed every second and thoroughly recommend it. This book will appeal to both men and women.

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22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Don't go out alone!

Susan Hill usually manages to scare the pants off me and has pulled this off (if you pardon the pun) with applomb. She manages to lull us into a sense of security in this sleepy little dormer town even though we know things are going on. Hill constucts a gradual psychological build up amongst a cast of well developed characters right up to the 'twist of the knife' ending. The reader - Stephen Pacey - skillfully brings each character to life, adding to the drama and climax of the story.

This is the first of Hill's 'Simon Serrailler' series and I'm looking forward to listening to others in the series providing I'm somewhere safe and with the lights on.

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20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Dissapointed

Very long winded and slow on the take. Kept hoping for it to pick up but dissapointed

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

much enjoyed

really enjoyed this audio book. its the first of series of three. iv already requested the second one for my next moths choice. easy to listen to. good characters & really well read. i get 'comfortable' with a lead character & the simon serrailler is 'most agreeable'! its definately worth a listen

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10 people found this helpful