Having read the first Simon Serrailler novel, The Various Haunts of Men, it was difficult to believe a) that this was Susan Hill's first foray into the world of crime fiction, and b) that it could get any better. Fortunately, she has proved me wrong with this marvellous, haunting tale of a missing boy, a recently released prisoner and his struggles to remain on the right side of the law, and a sensitive and touching portrayal of a severely handicapped young woman. The characters are immediately real, and stayed with me long after I had closed the book. Their relationships are deftly drawn, their struggles and pain all too believable. The poignant images of the little boy waiting for his lift, alone in the street, not knowing what was about to happen; and of Martha Serrailler, childlike in the nursing home, are desperately touching, and characteristic of Hill's masterful storytelling skills. This is a wonderful, sad, frightening, beautiful book.