Lafferton, an idyllic village just far enough from the madness of London, is a paragon of tranquility and peace, with a lovely cathedral and a stand of ancient stones on "the Hill." But then a woman goes missing from there, and then another, and another. Young policewoman Freya Graffham is assigned to investigate the suspected serial killings. Recently transferred from London, she is young, bright, inquisitive, dedicated, and smitten with Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler, although her new friends warn her that he's enigmatic, withdrawn, and withholding of both affection and commitment. As their relationship and the investigation unfold, the killer is revealed in a series of eerie first-person passages. He is close to both Simon and Freya—and getting closer. This is the first of Whitbread Award the winner Hill's three Simon Serrailler mysteries (following Pure in Heartand Risk of Darkness) to be published in the United States after receiving high praise in Britain. Hill is a master storyteller with real talent for building atmosphere and suspense. Readers will be instantly drawn to her likable characters and beautiful landscape and will be carried along by the plot, right up to the shocking final twist. Fans of British mysteries will love this new series and Simon Serrailler as well. Highly recommended.
Susan Clifford Braun
Whatever you do, don't go clumping up the Hill. At first, nobody thought much about Angela Randall's disappearance, though it was odd that this prim, conscientious, middle-aged job-holder would simply leave without a word. But Sgt. Freya Graffham, new to the Lafferton CID, has a bad feeling and decides to investigate the case with some help from DC Nathan Coates. They make few inroads until a pudgy young girl goes missing, too. The vanished don't seem to have much in common except for outings on the Hill and hints of depression that had driven them to alternate-therapy practitioners. Another woman, trying to deal with a life-threatening cancer, has also turned to the fringe element to deal with her problem. Freya and Nathan, now under auspices of the enigmatic but dishy Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler, must separate do-gooders from charlatans ranging from an acupuncturist to a spiritualist to a psychic surgeon (don't ask). The suspense builds, climaxing with another death, then plummeting with the denouement, which is nowhere near as gripping as the road leading to it. Freya's love obsession is a bit over the top, Simon is in need of serious fleshing-out, and surely it's old-hat to deride New Agers, incense, herbs and vegans. All in all, an inauspicious series beginning from an author (The Risk of Darkness, 2006, etc.) once short-listed for the Booker Prize. Agent: Anne Borchardt/Georges Borchardt Inc.