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The Vows of Silence (Simon Serrailler #4)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,265 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Gunmen are terrorising young women in the Cathedral town of Lafferton.

What — if anything — links the apparently random murders? Is the marksman with a rifle the same person as the killer with a handgun?

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler falls back on well-tried police methods such as questioning neighbours and house-to-house searches. He tries to stay on step
Paperback, 464 pages
Published June 30th 2009 by Seal Books (first published 2006)
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May 10, 2013 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all mystery readers.
It's amazing to me how much Susan Hill can incorporate into each episode of her Simon Serailler series. Yes they are police procedurals and mysteries, but they also provide continuing character studies of the primary, continuing characters as there lives change in many and unexpected ways. And secondary characters are not ciphers but are fully developed with full pasts, presents and hoped-for futures of their own.

In this episode, recent brides and newlyweds have been shot by a sniper without wa
Jan 21, 2010 Charlotte rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
OK, I understand that when a sort of formula is working you may not want to mess with it, but four books, four serial killers, only one little English cathedral town? Beloved characters: you ought to move. Hill is obviously much more than a competent writer, so I'm confused by the repeat plot. Also, the personal events that befall the main Serailler family are SO SAD, and not in a useful way. I honestly don't understand why some of the hard things that happen to them do in this book--it just see ...more
Terri Lynn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
A true 4* this one.......Susan Hill is back to her best with Gunmen terrorizing women in the Cathedral town of Lafferton. What — if anything — links these apparently random murders? Is the rifle marksman the same person as the killer with the handgun? Simon Serrailler uses well-tried police methods - questions neighbors, searches house-to-house and ponders, both the motives for the murders and his personal life. His sister Cat is back with her family from their six month sojourn in Australia, bu ...more
Susan Hill's Simon Serailler novels are shelved as mysteries in libraries and bookstores, and here on my virtual shelves as well. Having read the first (The Various Haunts of Men) and the fourth (this one), and some reviews, I think they are actually domestic fiction about a family, one of whose members happens to be a policeman.

I enjoyed both books, and will probably seek out the middle two and any sequels. But I enjoyed them as domestic fiction more than for the mystery. I learned from some of
Karen Pullen
Jan 15, 2012 Karen Pullen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
I love Susan' Hill's books, though there is a sameness about them (serial killer terrorizes Lafferton). She's an excellent writer, reminding me of Elizabeth George only less wordy. She employs multiple points of view - including the victims and the killer - but it works very well; you always know who is speaking/thinking/experiencing the story. Her characters are appealing, especially the sleuth (Simon Serrailler) and his sister Cat. She weaves in and out of their family problems, his struggles ...more
Dec 21, 2010 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've now read the first four of the series. I like it a lot, but it is strange in some ways. The first book, for instance, hardly featured the protagonist at all; it was mainly about a new employee who was attracted to him. The next three, we have the protagonist, but I don't much like him. He's a cold fish who treats women badly. However, the mysteries are good, and I really like the guy's sister, a doctor. This is a really good series, and I don't have to like the protagonist, as evidenced by ...more
Dec 15, 2013 Deanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crimethriller
Read this in one sitting except for breaks to hunt down more coffee.
Serrailler is dealing with a number of things after the end of the previous book. A killer who shoots young women and a new DS who seems to be an idiot.
There's also personal problems which come in threes, including a tragedy close to home.
Again Hill presents a group of characters who are more than window dressing for the main character. There are also secondary characters who are new to Lafferton but essential to the story. Look
This fourth entry into the Simon Serrallier series left me with some rather mixed feelings. After the third book, The Risk of Darkness, ended rather abruptly and despite several characters being abandoned it what felt like mid-story, they are not so much as mentioned here. I also expected there to be more with the kidnapper, but that plot line also has been cast aside. My concern over these plot lines led me to ruin a large part of the book - I thought I would read the synopsis for the fifth boo ...more
Having enjoyed the other books in the Simon Serailler series, I was disappointed in this mystery. For one thing there were far too many deaths, some linked to the detective story, but others in the back story and involving established characters, and I felt that there were too many story lines and none got the attention they deserved. I also didn't like the frequent use of short staccato sentences of one or two words. This can be an effective dramatic device but was overdone here and seemed mere ...more
Jun 26, 2012 Spuddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to listen to this book. I love the writing and the author's style, but I really dislike the main character, whom I find to be a self-absorbed, clueless snothead. So I only listen to a little at a time less I plot to kill him off. This one was especially poignant with his sister Cat going through hell as her husband Chris deals with a brain tumor.
Sep 11, 2015 Elaine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love Simon Serrailler but I needed to see more of him in this book. I know it's Hill's style but there were some side-plots that I simply didn't care about. A number of them in fact. Rather disappointed if I'm honest.
Oct 11, 2012 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Death continues to surround the Serrailler clan, and not just of the crime variety. While Cat Deerbon deals with a shocking development, Simon is on the trail of a sniper in Lafferton (for a quiet village they've sure had their share of crazed criminals lately!) This book was somewhat disappointing, though. I figured out who the sniper probably was pretty quickly and the red herring wasn't very convincing to lead me otherwise. Then, the fate of one of the characters really made no sense at all.

I really enjoy this series of books and agree with another reviewer who said its more like a family saga with a policeman as part of the family. One thing I would love to see is Simon finding the right woman. He falls for every unattached female who comes along and I am not sure what Jane sees in him or he in her. She is such an uninteresting person. No idea of what she is doing or what she wants, not suitable for Simon at all. I would love to see him meet his match. He needs a smart, strong wom ...more
Sep 27, 2010 Voula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-bought-this
Finished this book yesterday. Hill does a solid job of keeping the reader guessing. The ending was somewhat surprising (although I have to admit that the identity of the actual culprit did cross my mind for a fleeting minute before getting to the end of the book). As usual, Hill is so very adept at character development. You know you're fully invested in the story when you laugh out loud or cry at something you've read, the latter of which was true in my case. A solid mystery, sad in parts, but ...more
Jan 02, 2010 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-mystery
Like the rest of the Susan Hill mysteries, this very well written and keeps you turning the pages. However, most of the book is about DCS Serailler's family, and the mystery in this case feels like an after-thought. Not much mystery to this mystery, and while the family stuff is OK, that's really not why I read these. I like a puzzle, and this was not much of one. This series is getting weaker for me as she spends more time on his personal life and less on police procedure with each book.
This series mixes the family life of the main character with the details of a police procedural. Sometimes it works better than others. It's a difficult balancing act and this time it dipped too far towards family to the detriment of the "crime" element of the story.

Simon Serrailler is a Detective Chief Superintendent in the catherdral town of Lafferton. His sister, brother-in-law and their children have just returned from an 18 month sabbatical in Australia and while readjusting to life in Engl
Jan 02, 2012 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime
An okay thriller covering a serial killer out to kill women after being rebuffed. The author spends more time on the family lives of a set of characters then she does on the crimes themselves. While Kate Atkins on does the same it does not seem as random and contrived as it does here. In this book it seems like there are three to four all rather incomplete stories being rolled out at once. This effect could be because I have only read the fourth of the series. Overall it was a meh.
Oct 09, 2014 Eve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2014 Ange rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simon Serailler is not a dynamic enough character to be the centre of these crime/ mystery novels. He is no Andy Dalziel, Inspector Morse or Adam Dalgleish. I suspect he is meant to come across as a brooding loner type but to me he just seems to be a bit of a grump - unable to take pleasure in anything much at all, and resentful of some of his own family, in this novel he is disgruntled at his widowed father for having a relationship with Judith. The plot itself is a bit bleak, there seemed to b ...more
Dec 02, 2009 Georgina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this because I love Susan Hill's literary fiction, and I also loved Family and The Magic Apple Tree, but this I skimmed and just about endured to the end. It was like reading a toff's view of life among the proles, clunky and superficial. I was neither engaged by the mystery murders or surprised at the deoument. Oh dear. I wish I had enjoyed it....
Another great read from Susan Hill. I am perplexed by the 'blurb' on Amazon, which bears absolutely no resemblance to this story however.

But, this is a lovely, intricate story. Complex characters and Simon Serailler as good (and intriguing) as usual. A tragic story, which reduced me to tears at times, but still beautifully written.
Nov 24, 2010 Mel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-as-an-adult
Very, very disappointing. The previous Simon Serrailler books have been quite readable but this one is a disaster. Family tragedy after family tragedy - the poorly written chapters about the serial killer were almost a welcome relief. At this point I don't know if I will bother with the next book in this series.
Jo Weston
Apr 22, 2015 Jo Weston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2015
Best yet of the series for me. Really steamed along and I love the development of the family story alongside, with the characterisations there. Though it has to be said that the Serraillers are a fairly unfortunate bunch with what life doles out to them.
Aug 05, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-series
I still LOVE this series, but our Simon was a little slow to catch the connection here. Plus, could anything more happen to the poor Serraillers? And don't EVER move to Lafferton - chances are high you'll not make it out alive.
Jan 05, 2015 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
Where I got the book: audiobook on Audible.

Ah, Lafferton, Lafferton. A small cathedral town must be a terrible place to live if serial killers pop up as regularly as they do in this series—I wouldn’t dare leave the house. Add in the high incidence of Sudden Death from natural causes, suicide and bizarre accidents, and you get the impression that the Grim Reaper once visited the town for a short vacation and liked it so much that he stayed.

The Serrailler family and friends soap opera really lets
Heather Fineisen
Feb 21, 2013 Heather Fineisen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2013-bought
Hill is not afraid to kill off any character or reveal any character's dark side. I wasn't even close in guessing this one. Ah joy! Fortunately, I have #5 right here.
Mar 10, 2014 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes. This is book is why I really like Susan Hill's writing. My review of the previous book in the series suggested that the next instalment would benefit from some more spice or action. Well, this book delivers it in spades.

A series of murders rocks Lafferton and the police are clueless. Meanwhile the personal lives of Simon Serrailler and his family are also in turmoil. Hill has the ability to slowly turn the screws of the tension tighter and also to make you really identify with and care abou
oh dear. i can feel her formula shining through in this book. and i could, of course, see the bad guy a mile away. which is fine. if we're supposed to know in advance. but if we're supposed to be kept guessing till the end then this one failed. and enough with killing off the family members. and enough with the intellectualizing of grief but not actually putting us into the heads of the characters. this book is dull, flat, unemotional. and yes i'll read the next one because book #1 in this serie ...more
Nov 04, 2015 Cliff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am becoming more and more disenchanted with these Serailler novels. The main character, said Serailler, pops in and out log the narrative like a minor character. He has a sudden idea about 20 pages from the end which solves the crimes, but we aren't told what that is. The police seem to be idiots half the time. There are far too many side stories which have little or no bearing on the narrative. Ms Hill could take a leaf out of the Brunetti novels which are a third of the length but definitely ...more
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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 Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler, #1)
  • The Pure in Heart (Simon Serrailler, #2)
  • The Risk of Darkness (Simon Serrailler, #3)
  • 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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