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The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler #1)

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,629 Ratings  ·  688 Reviews
In quiet cathedral town Lafferton, too many people vanish on foggy Hill. DS Freya Graffham ensures DCI Simon Serailler 34 notices. His sister GP Cat 34 sits beside Iris losing husband to cancer, takes referral for Jake 10 leukemia, referred by acupuncturist Aidan Sharpe. Tapes from killer intersperse.
Kindle Edition, 576 pages
Published (first published 2004)
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This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Ramon It does definitely help. Not just for this series, but in general. So if you haven't read any of them yet, why not start with the first?
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THE VARIOUS HAUNTS OF MEN (Pol. Proc-DS Freya Graffam-England-Cont) – NR
Hill, Susan – 1st in series
Chatto & Windus, 2004, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 185619714x

First Sentence: Last week I found a letter from you.

In a small English cathedral town, a 53-year-old single woman disappears while on her daily run on “The Hill.” DS Freya Graffam searches the woman’s cottage for clues and finds a hidden present; a pair of expensive cufflinks and a note saying “To You, with all possible love from your devote
Jan 21, 2009 Eleanor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW would be the one-word review, but perhaps you want more information than that...

This is a classic contemporary British mystery, complete with a cathedral town (Lafferton), a tantalizingly aloof Chief Inspector (Simon Serrailler), and a cast of wonderfully drawn supporting players whose side stories are interesting enough to make you forget the mystery at the heart of the novel.

People have gone missing from "The Hill," once considered a place of tranquil walks and spiritual renewal. They sha
Jan 12, 2013 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, series
I loved Susan Hill's The Woman in Black, and so I was excited to read this first book in a series of hers. I will concede that Susan Hill is an excellent writer, and as a mystery, this book was indeed well written. However, I ended up feeling sucker punched by the ending, not something that endears a book to me. Also, it's a Simon Serrailler series, but he was more of a minor, inconsequential character in this story. I was quite taken with the character of Freya Graffham, and I actually would ha ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: British mystery readers
I always love finding a new (to me) mystery series and now I have this to follow. This first of series book involves the titled DCI and the men and women who work with him in the cathedral town of Lafferton. The story is complex, going in multiple directions as, I assume, any police department would do at any one time. All resources aren't focused on one apparent crime. Resources must be respected, as is pointed out from time to time.

There is the case of a missing middle aged woman. Just up and
Holly Robinson
Jun 05, 2012 Holly Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tend to gobble down mystery novels like peanut M&M's, sometimes without even noticing the colors, if you know what I mean. But The Various Haunts of Men stopped me in my tracks. This is one of those rare finds: a tense, atmospheric novel that reads like the psychotic aunt of your typical British cozy. Yep, there's the erudite, handsome detective Chief Inspector with an artistic side and a troubled aristocratic family. And, oh yes, there's the gutsy policewoman who has a teeny crush on him, ...more
Dec 03, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thriller lovers, British crime lovers, those who enjoy character-driven stories
I love mysteries. They're my favorite genre. British mysteries in particular are the best kind of comfort read for me. I love the atmosphere of a British mystery, the creepiness, the character sketches. It's like slipping into a warm bath every time I pick up a book like this. This one is different, but in a way that makes it even better.

I can't remember the last time that a book in this genre really surprised me. This one is unusual in that the man for whom the series is named sits offstage fo
Feb 05, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ivonne Rovira
Jan 13, 2014 Ivonne Rovira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Susan Hill, best known for her chilling The Woman in Black, launched her Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler mystery series with this novel in which first one resident of the cathedral town of Lafferton and then another disappears. The account of the crimes and the police investigation alternates with a taped “confession” by the unidentified killer, a sociopath taping his own version of events, ostensibly for his stern, hypercritical mother. The novel offers a window into the mind of a se ...more
Okay..SO wanted to give this book the five star rating it deserved as I tore through this book in days and was thoroughly entertained..however I felt the ending was flat..Back it up to the story, it begins in a sleepy, comfortable town of Lafferton, I believe it is in England but let me also preface this retelling by again stating no one does mystery better and more detailed than our English/British author friends, what rich enveloping stories they tell..Okay back to the plot in Lafferton there ...more
Ben Babcock
Mar 06, 2014 Ben Babcock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, I do enjoy the conceit of the English country novel. It’s second only to the Agatha Christie country house detective. In these stories, it’s not the policework or even the mystery that matters so much as the effect of the crimes on the collective psyche of the town in which they take place. Lafferton, the setting of The Various Haunts of Men is a cathedral town. Simon Serrailler describes it as "a jumped up market town", just big enough that not everyone knows everyone else, but the degrees ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Donna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
Shelves: mystery
This book forever changed the way I read - and not in a good way. Prior to reading "The Various Haunts of Men", I didn't want to know "what was gonna happen". I wanted to read the book front to back, and not know the ending. The natural progression - enjoy the surprise at the book's climax, and feel complete at the end.

Not any more. I was so angry with the horrible ending of "Various Haunts", it destroyed my enjoyment of the author's gifted writing. I will never again read anything by Susan Hill
Terri Lynn
Since I had already read a later Simon Serrailler mystery, I wanted to start at the beginning and play catch up. The other book also didn't feature much of Simon at all despite this being the "Simon Serrailler" mystery series and I was surprised to see that this one didn't have much of him either outside a few appearances at work or his mom's house. We don't see him doing much of anything.

The story is much more about his triplet doctor Cat who also lives in Lafferton, England, a small Cathedra
Bill Kupersmith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 13, 2015 Txkimmers rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to this book because of all the four and five star reviews on both Goodreads and Audible, but I am in the minority after all: I hated this book.

It started promisingly enough, and reminded me very much of the work of Louise Penny: mysteries set in a bucolic little town, a "cathedral town" in this case, a police procedural but with an intense focus on the internal lives of a recurring set of main characters. I spent so much time learning about the nooks and crannies o
Feb 14, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2013
This is the first in the Simon Serrailler detective series. Interestingly, he is hardly in this book at all which I thought was a clever idea. Instead, Hill gives us Freya Graffham - a new young policewoman in town who has a crush on Simon and sees him as an almost mythical figure. We learn a lot about him through her eyes but he always stays a little removed, intriguing, and seductive - the desire to know more means the second book in the series is already in my TBR pile ready to go. Hill isn't ...more
Just started this, but so far it is excellent --- beautifully written and very engaging. Reminiscent of Rendell and Atkinson.

I'm very glad there are currently two more in the Serrailer series!



What. A. Book.

It has been a very long time since I was literally unable to stop reading a book. My house is dirty, my husband is hungry, and I never got properly dressed today.

Top marks!
Apr 04, 2015 Diane rated it really liked it
This book is not your average book about a psychotic serial killer. Susan Hill draws you into the lives of the characters before killing them off. Their murder becomes all the more heartbreaking and with each new victim, the death is ever more difficult to bear.
Jan 03, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible.

I’d checked a couple of the Serailler books out of the library in the past, and have long been meaning to listen to the entire series. I loved Susan Hill’s creepy stories when I was younger.

This, of course, is Book 1, and what’s most interesting about it in my opinion is that we are introduced to Simon Serailler purely from the outside and that he’s seen in large part through the eyes of someone who’s only recently met him and who, to her great chagrin,
Dec 11, 2012 Voluntarystress rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up on a second hand book shelf because the author was Susan Hill and the cover writing made it look like my sort of book, promising “a gripping whodunit”. It very definitely was.

There is depth of character here. You are allowed to get to know, to understand these people, which gives what eventually happens to them even more impact. If you are looking for a quick fire, all action detective story, this book is not for you. This novel takes it’s time and develops over, probably,
David Gooch
It has taken me a while to complete the reading of this. At first I thought it was my laziness but looking back I can see now it is the book itself at the start that does not draw you into it. I find a when I read a good book I am drawn into it and you forget what is going on elsewhere or even the time. You want to read on but sadly this was not one of those books.
The idea and the story itself are good. People are going missing in an area and no one knows why or even where they have gone. There
Oct 05, 2012 Nevermore rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
This may topple right off my "currently reading" onto my "gave up" shelf. It is making me think that my "gave up" shelf probably needs fine tuning. There are many reasons to give up and for me, sheer boredom and indifference would be what ended this one. I read a lot of murder-mystery. A lot. And a lot of it is bad. I think I might even prefer a bad book to a book that makes no impact on me at all: at least then I could rail on a bit about what makes it bad. I had to give two stars because the a ...more
Dec 02, 2013 Deanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crimethriller
Took me a while to pick this up as I'd borrowed it from the library, but once I started it just couldn't put it down.
Interesting twists and turns, an interesting group of characters who I think I'm ggoing to get to know quite well. Though DCI Serrailer wasn't in this a great deal, hopefully he'll be in the next book a bit more.
Do like the sound of living in a cathedral town again, lived in Canterbury for three years except for all the tourists. It's not a big city, even more crowded with all th
Nov 28, 2015 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Although set conventionally in a country cathedral city with pleasant villages around, this detective story is certainly not "cosy". It is presented in the format whereby the thoughts of a very creepy killer are interspersed between the thoughts and feelings of the victims and description of the police actions. In this respect it is extremely well written and although you may often suspect what is about to happen it is still frighteningly suspenseful and almost impossible to stop listening.

Lisa Cindrich
Well, this was very satisfying. Just as with Hill's horror novel The Woman in Black, this features rich characterizations and a vividly imagined setting. I'm not usually huge on reading series fiction (at least not past book #1) so it is high praise to say that I'm definitely planning to buy book 2! Oh, Mysteryscape Bookstore, I will be visiting you soon.
Jim B
Jun 14, 2015 Jim B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This mystery is built around alternative medicine -- psychic surgeons, acupuncture, psychic readings. There's lots of discussion (after all Simon's sister Cat and her husband are doctors) about the quackery, lack of regulation, and fear of the medical profession over the treatments offered, and because several characters seek the alternative treatments, this book gives a range of experiences people have when trying these things. It adds a sinister level to the murders taking place -- are they co ...more
I have to say that I found this book very frustrating. On the one hand it was a very interesting mystery full of suspense. On the other hand the lead character Freya was this obsessive towards her boss Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler{who played a very minor role in the story except for all of Freya's obsessive talk about him}. Not long after meeting him, she is obsessed with him to the point of stalking him in what seems a fairly unbalanced way to me{is this the authors idea of injecting romanc ...more
Dec 13, 2012 Tonja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn into this book from the very beginning. I listened to it on audio and towards the middle/end of the book I found myself walking around the house exclaiming things out loud like "oh no! the killer's got her! ack!"

I found the town to be interesting and the characters fit well with the town. I can understand some of the compaints others have had with certain plot lines not being followed up...that was a little frustrating. However, with that said, I do understand that Hill is attemptin
Apr 25, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Basic Overview
The Various Haunts of Men centers on a series of disappearances in the English town of Lafferton. The first to disappear is a spinster who leads a quiet, regimented life ... but leaves behind one out-of-character clue in her sterile, empty home. Although Freya Graffham -- the talented young policewoman assigned to investigate the case -- believes there is more to this disappearance than meets the eye, she is hard-pressed to convince her superiors that this is anything but a routine
Jan 21, 2010 Charlotte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Sometimes you read a book at exactly the right time for it to really grab you, and it was exciting to discover that this book did, especially because I had a five hour train ride with it for company. It was even more exciting to discover, then, that there were three sequels. There's nothing I like more than a well-written mystery novel where I can't guess the ending, except if that mystery novel has sequels! I really like the family dynamics in this book, and the switches in narration were inter ...more
Sep 10, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the book and the writing, and will be reading more of the series.

If you like a story with atmosphere, good characters and you aren't an action junkie, you might want to give this a try :-)

A few things bothered me, the book is called Simon Serrailler #1 - but he's hardly in it until the very end, except as Freya's crush, and leading a few meetings.
I did however like the "reality" of the ending not wrapping up with a neat little bow.
The only thing that REALLY irritated me was: (view spoiler
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Kindle English My...: The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill 62 46 Nov 29, 2013 12:16PM  
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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 factor
More about Susan Hill...

Other Books in the Series

Simon Serrailler (8 books)
  • The Pure in Heart (Simon Serrailler, #2)
  • The Risk of Darkness (Simon Serrailler, #3)
  • The Vows of Silence (Simon Serailler, #4)
  • The Shadows in the Street (Simon Serrailler, #5)
  • The Betrayal of Trust (Simon Serrailler, #6)
  • A Question of Identity (Simon Serrailler, #7)
  • The Soul of Discretion (Simon Serrailler, #8)

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