The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler Series #1)

The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler Series #1)

by Susan Hill

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781585678761
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publication date: 04/19/2007
Series: Simon Serrailler Series , #1
Pages: 438
Sales rank: 1,258,314
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Susan Hill is the author of the famous ghost story The Woman in Black, adapted as a major movie in 2012 starring Daniel Radcliffe, as well as five other acclaimed mysteries starring Simon Serrailler. She lives in Gloucestershire, England, where she runs her own small publishing company, Long Barn Books.

Reading Group Guide

1. Would you describe The Various Haunts of Men as a thriller, a mystery, a literary novel or some other genre? In what ways does this book use or confound the expectations of the crime genre?

2. How does the author build up a sense of the community and setting of Lafferton? How does this sense of place affect the crime plot? What are the roles of the other characters in the novel?

3. Discuss the character of Cat in detail. What do you think she contributes to the novel?

4. Consider the role of morality in The Various Haunts of Men. Look in particular at the religious and ethical beliefs of the different characters. Discuss the theme of belief in the novel.

5. Who is the hero of The Various Haunts of Men?

6. Discuss how the value of life is explored in the book.

7. Consider the structure of the novel. Look at how the author moves the focus of the story across the various characters — what do you think this achieves? Look particularly at how the passages narrated by the murderer are differentiated from the rest of the book. Which characters do you feel you know best by the end of the book?

Foreword

1. Would you describe The Various Haunts of Men as a thriller, a mystery, a literary novel or some other genre? In what ways does this book use or confound the expectations of the crime genre?

2. How does the author build up a sense of the community and setting of Lafferton? How does this sense of place affect the crime plot? What are the roles of the other characters in the novel?

3. Discuss the character of Cat in detail. What do you think she contributes to the novel?

4. Consider the role of morality in The Various Haunts of Men. Look in particular at the religious and ethical beliefs of the different characters. Discuss the theme of belief in the novel.

5. Who is the hero of The Various Haunts of Men?

6. Discuss how the value of life is explored in the book.

7. Consider the structure of the novel. Look at how the author moves the focus of the story across the various characters — what do you think this achieves? Look particularly at how the passages narrated by the murderer are differentiated from the rest of the book. Which characters do you feel you know best by the end of the book?

Customer Reviews

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The Various Haunts of Men (Simon Serrailler Series #1) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Justpeachy1 More than 1 year ago
My Synopsis: The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill (Simon Serrailer Mystery series - Book 1) British author, Susan Hill weaves a chilling story set in the small cathedral town of Lafferton. Filled with strange disappearances, the New Age movement and alternative medicine, The Various Haunts of Men will leave a lingering impression. Freya Graffham came to Lafferton seeking a new start, peace and quiet, a change from hustle and bustle of her London career as a police officer. But, when she meets Chief Inspector, Simon Serrailer she finds herself out of her element. His quiet demeanor and commanding presence seem to draw her in and she soon finds herself in love. Her mind is torn between Simon and a lonely woman, whose disappearance she is investigating. When others quickly begin to disappear, Freya fears that they may be linked. Will she and Simon explore the possibility of a relationship? Is Lafferton dealing with a serial killer or just an odd coincidence? My Thoughts: This was very intriguing book. It explored the idea of alternative medicine and how disciplines like acupuncture and complementary treatments can go hand in hand with regular medicine. The New Age movement with it's spiritual healers and "psychic" surgeons is definitely interesting. I liked the way Hill, was able to develop Freya Graffham's character and make the reader understand her motivation in not only moving to Lafferton but in her search for Angela Randall. She seemed to have some strange connection with this woman, that wouldn't let her file the case away as just another missing person. That's the kind of detective I would want! Hill was able to give the reader a glimpse into the tangled and warped mind of a serial killer through the taped confessional. It was chilling and as the name of the novel implies, haunting. The book started a little slow for me, but when it did pick up speed, it barreled to a startling conclusion that I certainly wasn't prepared for, but seemed only fitting.
pagese More than 1 year ago
This book had such potential, but fell flat in my opinion. The description makes the book sound like a mystery/thriller, but it's written more like a drama. It felt like it was extremely drawn out, and at times I was completely bored. I picked the killer out half way through the book, but never really understood why he killed. There wasn't much momentum through the book. The shocker at the end was completely unfulfilling. And why it's called a Simon Serrailler mystery is beyond men. You barely see the man throughout the book and by the end you know next to nothing about him.
eleanor_eader on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Quiet Lafferton, with its drug problems and white good thefts is a change from the Met for Sergeant Freya Graffham, but she nevertheless finds herself connecting the dots on two seemingly unrelated missing persons cases to uncover a possible serial killer, while fighting off an unwanted, powerful attraction to her new boss, DCI Simon Serrailler.I enjoy the author for her knack for evocation of atmosphere, and I was intrigued to know if her skill set extended to functional plotting of crime investigations, so I picked it up without hesitation. It was an enjoyable read; somewhat derivative, perhaps ¿ there was less of Hill¿s unique voice than I¿d hoped, in that it often felt like a P.D. James novel with less literary heft, but more immediate character portrayal. And Sergeant Graffham¿s choir singing seemed to echo the old Morse tales of Colin Dexter ¿ not the academia, precisely, but the higher-thought atmosphere. Honestly, though, I wish more writers of crime fiction would reach for those heights, so although I was sorry that Hill didn¿t stand out more in the genre, I was nevertheless impressed. It is a very readable novel and, despite the title (which I like very much), quite feminine in focus (we see less of Serrailler than of Freya, his sergeant, despite this being the introductory book of, I believe, a trilogy if not a series in which Serrailler is the principal detective).Does Susan Hill manage to pull off the crime plotting? Well, this is a hard one to peg, because the brief success that the investigation enjoyed seemed to arrive by virtue of the suspect being overly arrogant, and then ended on a note of failure¿ the atmosphere of sadness seemed rather more the point than the wrapping up of the investigation. I can hardly complain, since atmosphere is why I picked the author¿s work up in the first place. I shall be interested, however, to see if Hill makes the plot work a bit harder in the next book, or if she hides behind conventional scenarios.
curlycurrie on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This is the first Susan Hill book I ahve read and although I'm not a big fan of crime fiction it had me captivated. Unlike many crime stories the victims were given personalites, making each death all the more shocking. A twist was promised in the blurb and it was there. This was a moving book as well as a good story. The only downfall was that I like the title of the book to come out in the story and I did not find this one. Maybe I just missed it.
mckait on LibraryThing 2 days ago
#47 [The Various Haunts of Men ]by Susan HillFantastic read! As do so many British authors Hill handles even the most horrific details with kid gloves, softens them. I enjoy reading British novels for this reason. They seem to understand that fireworks and special effects aren't needed to mak a story. At the end if the book, she slams you with reality. This is not something I have seen before and I have to say it makes for a good read,I will be looking to read the next in the series..
bhowell on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This is the first book in the detective Simon Serrailler series and a great read. It takes place in a fictional English cathedral town where an unusual number of people are disappearing. A psychopath is on the loose and carrying out his plan which he has prepared for all his life. I had read "The Risk of Darkness first which is the 3rd in the series and now I am ordering "The Pure in Heart" which is the second.Susan Hill is such an accomplished writer and this series is fabulous.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Readable mystery. Kept me guessing even with the clues throughout. Some people have gone missing in a small English town. No bodies have been found and Detective Sergeant Freya Graffian thinks something is going on and keeps at it. Some discussion of Alternative medecine as well, as they find that this is one of the common denominators.
terpOK More than 1 year ago
I purchased the book because I wanted a new series to read. I read her "Woman In Black" then started this one. I had trouble following it bouncing from person to person, sub-headings would have helped. I found it tedious and took too long for the threads to merge. I don't recommend reading this and probably won't continue the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding. Tightly plotted, peopled with interesting characters, surorising ending.
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MARYOHVA More than 1 year ago
Well-written, taughtly-plotted
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was hard to follow the thread - everytime I had to put it down to answer the phone (or whatever), I had a hard time getting back into it - this is not one of my favorite books. Just didn't seem to progress smoothly - and Simon is hardly mentioned at all throughout the book