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Book 214-216: Hunger, The Soul of Discretion, A Breach of Security by Susan Hill

Book 214: Hunger.
Author: Susan Hill, 2013.
Genre: Psychological Horror.
Other Details: ebook. 33 pages.

A young couple move from the city to an isolated country cottage in the woods. At first Adrian is very keen on brisk walks and the fresh air even though he has a long commute to and from work. Paula works as an illustrator from home and finds rural life lonely and dull. Then a small group of silent children begin to appear, first in the woods but then progressively closer to the couple, who have a very different response to the mysterious children.

An isolated location, woods and spooky children proved a winning combination for this atmospheric short tale that wasn't the usual kind of horror story but the kind of haunting tale that Susan Hill writes with such ease.

Book 215: The Soul of Discretion (Simon Serrailler #8).
Author: Susan Hill, 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Police Procedural. Family Saga. Sexual Violence
Other Details: ebook. 336 pages.

In this outing for Simon Serrailler he is asked to take on some dangerous undercover work in which he is to attempt to get information from a convicted paedophile about the internet ring he had facilitated before his arrest. Simon has to leave Lafferton immediately without letting anyone know where he is. It is an assignment that could take months. In his absence his twin sister Cat is facing major professional decisions as well as dealing with a serious issue involving their father.

The subject matter here is very strong both in terms of the main case facing Simon as well as events back in Lafferton. However, Susan Hill handles these with her usual delicacy without diminishing the horror of the crimes while also raising other issues linked to the NHS, palliative care for the dying, and domestic and sexual violence. I felt it was one of the best to date in the series though again subject matter is highly disturbing so caution advised.

Book 216: A Breach of Security (Simon Serrailler #8.5).
Author: Susan Hill, 2014.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Police Procedural. GLBT.
Other Details: ebook. 57 pages.

Lafferton is hosting its third annual Gay Pride parade and police presence is light. Then the parade is attacked by a group identifying themselves as the British Bulldogs and several men are badly beaten before the police are able to respond. This is of great concern to the police and more so with another event due to take place in the city, which will involve an army regiment, their families and a Royal in attendance. High security measures are put into place while Simon and his team seek answers to the previous attack.

While no date is given for the events in this Kindle Single Simon's nephew is sixteen where he was fifteen in The Soul of Discretion so likely takes place in the summer of 2014.

However, this was a rare miss for me in this series that has been constantly good. The story itself was not bad but her decision to publish herself rather than through her usual publisher seems to have resulted in some rather awkward scene shifts, choppy editing and a glaring continuity error in Chapter Four. There was also a bit of a red herring with mention of a series of home invasions that was just dropped. This could easily have been fleshed out into a full length novel given the events in it, which certainly will impact on later novels in the series.

Also. there is not even a whisper of the events in the climax of The Soul of Discretion, which surely was already written when this short was published during the summer. I can understand Hill not wanting to give spoilers but she could have said something that did not reveal rather than feeling that we'd slipped into an alternative universe for the characters.
Tags: crime fiction, family saga, horror, police drama, sexual violence
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