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The Various Haunts of Men

(Simon Serrailler #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  11,372 ratings  ·  1,131 reviews
Having transferred to the small cathedral town of Lafferton from London's "Met," police detective Freya Graffham explores her new community and becomes fascinated by Chief Insp. Simon Serrailler, her enigmatic superior. Though she fits well within the local police force, she finds herself unable to let go what seems like a routine missing persons report on a middle-aged sp ...more
Hardcover, 438 pages
Published April 19th 2007 by Harry N. Abrams (first published July 27th 2004)
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Vicci I'm from the UK but if by a first grader you mean a 5/6 year old, then... no. Definitely not. This is an adult mystery novel, complete with murders an…moreI'm from the UK but if by a first grader you mean a 5/6 year old, then... no. Definitely not. This is an adult mystery novel, complete with murders and sexual imagery.(less)

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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  11,372 ratings  ·  1,131 reviews

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Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was surprised that I liked this book so much. The beginning was slow; probably the first half was devoted to introducing and developing characters. As an older publication, the book represents a different time when books were not rushed to a twisted ending. So, I was prepared for the slower pace. Halfway through the book, though, the pace picked up a bit and I was thoroughly invested right to the end.

Although labeled a “Simon Serrailler” book, the lead character is DS Freya Graffham. Freya is
Oct 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, mystery
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
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 devoted, M
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m a little conflicted with this one as I could understand what Susan Hill was trying to achieve, I just think it will miss the mark for most readers...

Whilst this is billed as the first Simon Serrailler case it’s actually Detective Sergeant Freya Graffham who gains the most focus, having transferred from the met to the quite cathedral town of Lafferton.
The slower change of pace is reflected in the opening half of the novel, which some readers may like - but I was desperate for something to hap
Jul 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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, and ...more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Oh this book made me so, so sad. I couldn't sleep last night after I finished it. I was so bewildered and heartbroken by the tragedy and loneliness that pours in torrents out of this book like Noah's flood.

Susan Hill, the author of the single scariest book I've ever read (The Woman in Black) is a wonderful writer who can get you delightfully lost in her worlds. The Various Haunts of Men which introduces her detective, the magnetic but elusive Simon Serrailler, is no exception to that rule. She s
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
Loved this book early inspired me to read the series. Have just finished #2, The Pure in Heart which was every bit as good, and now waiting for #3 in the series from my local library.

Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hill's novel is deceptive and dark. Lafferton, England, idyllic and dangerous hosts many secrets and a subversive cast of characters. Suspense slowly mounts as women disappear without any likely assailants; however, via multiple, third-person narratives and one anonymous first-person point of view, the reader is led on a sinister journey: deadly and frightening.
Hill lets us view the world of alternative medicine, its victims and charlatans, and we also note the dedication of the police investiga
Apr 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
*****WARNING Dog Related Spoilers in this review*****
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
Ivonne Rovira
Dec 26, 2013 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
Kara Babcock
Feb 24, 2014 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
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Bill Kupersmith
Nov 26, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a sad feeling this book just left me with! Didn't expect that. As a mystery fan, I'm more interested in the fast paced kind, but something about the slow build intrigued me and the detailed description of every character life and mind and their contribution with the emotive rollercoaster that is the ending, left me almost crying at the end. It takes a while, but for me, it payed off. A subtle mystery, with a fierced heart.

Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge 2019: A book by an author who is
Feb 14, 2013 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
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable summer read.
Bionic Jean
Susan Hill never disappoints. This is her first venture into crime/mystery novels and is an astonishing achievement. She breaks all the rules and sets a new standard in a well-established genre.
Terri Lynn
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Omg - read this whole long slow slog and in the last handful of pages she kills off the protagonist...completely unacceptable when you're waiting for the protagonist and her boss to get together!

"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. Yes, she's talented, but when I invest my time (and money) in a book, I want some reward at the end. Either gain more knowledge, or be en
Pam Baddeley
I approached this book with interest and initially was drawn into it and enjoying it - expected it would turn out to be at least a 4 star read. There was rather too much rambling discourse about medical matters and alternative medicine - usually the negative aspects of the latter - which didn't really go anywhere but I was prepared to put up with that for a well written book about the various characters whose lives are impinged upon - sometimes fatally - by a deranged killer who is able to cleve ...more
Jul 23, 2012 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 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-series
This is a chubby book, but I read it in about two days.

First off, the writing here is above par, beautifully done. Sense of place, the tone, dialogue, description, transitions - and in multiple POV - is all excellent. I have read some of Ms. Hill's shorter novels and loved them, and then after reading a review by a Goodreads friend of a different Simon Serrailler book, I had to give this series a try.

Secondly, Simon's barely in this book! He pops up now and then, and plays more of a role toward
Nick Davies
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, book-group
Two stars, saved only from a lower mark by virtue of it being possible to read the book, and the fact that the plot was sufficiently decent to keep me trudging through.

But yes, what a trudge. The first three hundred pages were especially tiresome - lots and lots of the author telling the reader about the inhabitants of the small town in which this crime mystery is set, lots of descriptions about their histories, thoughts, hobbies, clothes, tastes in interior decoration, how gullible they were ab
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
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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

Other books in the series

Simon Serrailler (1 - 10 of 11 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)
  • The Comforts of Home (Simon Serrailler #9)
  • The Benefit of Hindsight (Simon Serrailler #10)
  • A Change of Circumstance (Simon Serrailler #11)

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