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The Shadows in the Street: A Simon Serrailler Novel (Simon Serrailler 5) Hardcover – 1 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070117997X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701179977
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 321,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Hill is a prize-winning novelist, having been awarded the Whitbread, Somerset Maugham and John Llewelyn Rhys awards, as well as having been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She wrote Mrs de Winter, the bestselling sequel to Rebecca, and the ghost story The Woman in Black, which was adapted for the stage and became a great success in the West End. Her books include a collection of exquisite short stories, The Boy Who Taught the Beekeeper to Read, and the highly successful crime novel series about the detective Simon Serrailler. Susan Hill lives in Gloucestershire, where she runs her own small publishing firm, Long Barn Books.

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Shadows in the Street is the latest example of crime fiction from the talented Susan Hill. Hill, of course, has shown that she is adept at a variety of literary forms, notably the supernatural story -- where it can safely be said that she has few peers. But crime fans were pleased when she began to write about the detective Simon Serrailler -- pleased, that is, after an initial reluctance to accept that this creator of wonderfully distinctive ghost stories could make a mark in such an overcrowded field of crime fiction. But five books into the series, it is clear that Serrailler (and his well-characterised team) are here to stay.

Serrailler has just put the final touches to a particularly challenging at assignment for SIFT (The Special Incident Flying Task force) and is enjoying a well-earned rest on a sedate Scottish island. But his sabbatical is rudely interrupted when he is called back to Lafferton. Two prostitutes in the area have disappeared; their bodies are subsequently discovered -- both women have been strangled. Is the killer a disturbed individual with a pathological hatred of prostitutes, as was felt to be the case with the most famous serial killer of all, Jack the Ripper? There is, however, more to the town of Lafferton then its red light district -- the Cathedral close holds a very different position in the social strata, but has its own problems -- notably a particularly acrimonious series of ecclesiastical squabbles. As Serrailler desperately tries to track down a vicious murderer, he is all too aware that the clock is ticking. Then a piece of luck moves events along in a very surprising fashion.

Hill's particular achievement in The Shadows in the Street is to maintain two very different narratives simultaneously, while not allowing the more sensational of the two plot strands to overcome the more intimate one. There will always be those (this reviewer included) who would be happy if Hill were to spend the rest of her life producing her superlative ghost stories, but few will be complaining about her forays into the crime fiction field when she turns out books as authoritative as this. --Barry Forshaw


Hill continues to engage us with fresh characters and intriguing story lines. (MostlyFiction)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 104 people found the following review helpful By bookelephant on 31 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dorothy L Sayers called "Busman's Honeymoon" "A love story with detective interruptions". I am increasingly convinced that Susan Hill's excellent Simon Serrailler series is a family or perhaps a community story with detective interruptions. This is particularly noticeable in this book because the echoes of Trollope which have been present throughout the series become very insistent with the arrival in the cathedral close of ringers for Dr and Mrs Proudie and their tame canon. All ecclesiastical hell is forthwith let loose in the form of the High Church/Low Church antipathy (including the spats over music) so integral to Barchester Towers. But here the extra spice is added not by the problem of who is to be warden of the hospital, but by divisions amongst the church helpers as to how best to deal with Lafferton's emerging and complex prostitution problem. And hence, as two prostitutes are killed, we slide into the detective interruptions; Simon returns from leave to take over the murder enquiry and to welcome two bright new faces to his team (though past form with Hill leaves one doubtful as to whether they will be with us for many books - for her the powerful relationships lie outside the environment of work). The detective elements this time seem generally pretty unrewarding for all involved (which one suspects is far nearer to the truth than many detective novels would have us believe) - some pretty obvious leads are chased up to no great effect, the press have to be kept at bay and the teams motivated while a lot of no progress is made and more women - one even from the hallowed precincts of the Close disappear.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Catblack_uk on 24 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
The concept on the flyleaf was interesting but the novel itself was a bore. It didn't help that the characters are all so dislikeable. But then it doesn't engage on so many levels. It's not convincing. I didn't believe in the Religious conflict between the Evangelical and Conservative factions. Ruth and Stephen bore no resemblance to Evangelicals I have known. Cat (with her ever present cafetiere), Simon (the detective/artist) and Judith (just call me mother) are like badly drawn, middle-class cartoons padding out a wafer thin plot ad nauseum. Simon's Highland Fling was utterly irrelevant. So much of it felt like filler. It didn't flesh out the characters it just got in the way.

I guessed whodunnit quite early on -- largely because there was no one else it could possibly be -- and I was not wrong. The reveal, however, was thrown away and as unconvincing as everything else.

This book does not deserve the raves or the five star reviews. It's just not very good.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 24 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Susan Hill's Serrailler books are one of the best series currently being written: using the genre of the crime novel as a skeleton upon which to hang her stories, she supercedes the genre in lots of ways which has led to her books being dismissed as disappointing. Strictly speaking, they're books in which a crime takes place, rather than books which pursue the investigation and come to a neat and tidy conclusion. Instead she concentrates on the people touched by the crime, and unpeels the layers of their lives to reveal them to us.

This book focuses on the seamy underside of middle-class cathedral town Lafferton which has not been explored in previous books. It's a fine antidote to the recent rather worrying glamorisation of prostitution in Belle du Jour etc., without ever descending to either to sentimental or the judgemental. Hill is an extremely controlled writer, though she hides it well, and so there are no clumsy insertions of moral or social indignation here, instead these young women are painted just as people: flawed, inept, self-delusional, but also incredibly courageous. Abi, in particular, is an incredibly moving portrait of a woman who is a mother first and a prostitute only second.

Hill, as ever, is an acute observer of character (e.g. Ruth Webber who laughs 'often and loudly' but never smiles), and manages to create vignettes (e.g. Leah) that make us really care about a character in just a few pages. In this sense she is as indebted to Dickens as she is to Trollope, the allusions to whom are more pointed here, as other reviewers have pointed out. And like her predecessors'these are incredibly robust novels which never shy away from pain, death and the sheer sadness of people's lives.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By K. Maywood on 1 Jun. 2010
Format: Hardcover
We have read each of the four previous Serrailler novels but we are also reading a collection of Peter James and Mark Billingham detective novels/books at the same time. Normally Susan Hill's novels are the red wine to James' Stella Artois style - hers smooth and cultured as against James' more brash and shocking approach. The latest Hill piece, however, seems to lack that depth and finish - not sure why but some characters appear, you gain insight, and then they die and disappear, and other potential suspects seem too obviously written out of it too early. Enjoyed reading what feels like an old friend - just feel less moved by the experience than I would have liked.
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