Muse's Books (muse_books) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
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Books 124-125: The Shadows in the Street and The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read

Book 124: The Shadows in the Street (Simon Serrailler 05).
Author: Susan Hill, 2010.
Genre: Police Procedural. Murder Mystery. Literary Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 384 pages.

Set about a year after the events in The Vows of Silence, the book opens with Simon Serrailler taking a well-earned sabbatical on a distant Scottish island after successfully completing a difficult and dangerous case for the Special Incident Flying Task force. However, when the bodies of two missing prostitutes are found he is quickly called back to Lafferton to lead the investigation. When a third prostitute goes missing they have to face the possibility of a serial killer on their patch.

Hill continues the successful format of her other novels in this series by combining a police procedural with the day-to-day lives of various local residents and the community itself. Those who prefer gritty, high-paced action police procedurals are not likely to take to these books and their depiction of provisional English life. For example, there is a major sub-plot involving the appointment of a new Dean for the cathedral who has an evangelical agenda and how this upsets the existing congregation.

I love this series, not only for its enigmatic central character of Simon Serrailler, but for the richness of Hill's writing, her psychological insights and characterisations. I am so pleased that the next instalment is coming in April 2011.

Book 125: The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read.
Author: Susan Hill, 2003.
Genre: Short Stories.
Other Details: Hardback. 211 pages.

This collection of short stories was selected for one of my reading groups this month. We often choose shorter works in December as everyone tends to be busier in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays.

As said above I adore Susan Hill's writings. However, I am just not a fan of the short story format as I like to get my teeth into characters, story and settings. Yes, these nine stories were pleasant enough; offering well crafted bitter-sweet vignettes but overall they failed to really inspire me. Many of the stories do involve relationships between different generations and responses to authority.

My favourite was the last story Antonyin's in which an Englishman working in a bleak Eastern European town has a terrible time with the local food until he discovers Antonyin's, a small café that serves perfect food. However, his pleasure in this discovery is threatened when he is targeted by a woman determined to talk him into marrying her so she can escape to the West. It is the quirkiest of the tales and I enjoy quirky in short stories.
Tags: british, literary, murder mystery, police drama, short stories
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