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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Make up your own mind
I was almost put off this book by the negative reviews posted on this site. Ultimately, I bought the book because I was impressed by the first one. I hope other readers will do the same. I found the book thoughtful and interesting and the development of characters unrushed and therefore more to be relished. I trust that the author will reveal more and more as the series...
Published on 15 Aug 2006 by Suencfc

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Pure in Heart
Yes this is a gripping book and Susan Hill writes well. However, she overturns what one has come to expect from the genre in leaving the mystery (and other threads) unresolved, in a "real life" mimicry, whilst having unbelievable characters to people her book. This leaves the book unsatisfying. Real life has enough unsolved crime and I prefer to have at least the main...
Published on 1 Sep 2005 by Mrs Jo Baetke


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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Make up your own mind, 15 Aug 2006
By 
I was almost put off this book by the negative reviews posted on this site. Ultimately, I bought the book because I was impressed by the first one. I hope other readers will do the same. I found the book thoughtful and interesting and the development of characters unrushed and therefore more to be relished. I trust that the author will reveal more and more as the series develops. It is refreshing to find a book that does not merely rely on gore and forensics but actually tries to put the crimes and the detectives in a more realistic, human context. Far from seeing the author as a middle class person extolling the virtues of the middle class and denigrating the working classes, I thought Susan Hill painted a picture of a middle class family trapped in a very sterile environment, partly of their own making. Neighbours who care more about privacy than community, a woman who has literally no-one to turn to in a crisis. I liked the sympathetic treatment dished out at Dino's cafe and the fact that Nathan is good hearted and prepared to try to help an ex con even when he is hassled by the cons sister. Rough and ready maybe, but the view of Michelle is that she cares about her kids and will keep the family together and make the kids law abiding. Give the book a chance if you liked the first. I think comparisons between Elizabeth George and Susan Hill are more relevant than ones between her and Minette Walters.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Susan Hill, 3 Jun 2005
By A Customer
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.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Pure in Heart, 1 Sep 2005
Yes this is a gripping book and Susan Hill writes well. However, she overturns what one has come to expect from the genre in leaving the mystery (and other threads) unresolved, in a "real life" mimicry, whilst having unbelievable characters to people her book. This leaves the book unsatisfying. Real life has enough unsolved crime and I prefer to have at least the main questions answered. Yes, I know it may be valid for the book to explore the impact of crime upon its victims and the community but it is frustrating to be left as one is at the end of this book. Furthermore, SH deliberately plays with the reader - making them expect certain things only to thwart, offering nothing in return. Again, some may see this as a valid departure in the genre but her PD James-ish settings (in part) tease and tempt the reader to expect some resolution.
The characters: stereotyped criminal/housing estate dwellers; sickeningly self-satisfied doctor-class.....and I do think SS is a copy of AD! But it is a page-turner; I just don't know if I'll bother with another.
I would recommend Strange Meeting as her best book and a masterpiece.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, 8 July 2005
I absolutely loved this novel. Whereas The Various Haunts of Men was about setting the scene, this one takes you straight under the skin of the characters. It centres around the disappearance of a small boy, its effect on his parents and sister, the local community and those investigating it. It's a distressing subject, sensitively handled by the author, but Susan Hill's strength as a writer is in locating her character's heart and soul in more than one place. Central to DCI Serrailler is his relationship with his sisters - Cat, his beloved triplet and Martha, who is severely mentally and physically disabled. His love for them both is deeply moving and gives us an idea of where this apparently rather repressed man draws his huge capacity for tenderness. Those who wanted a lot more of him after the first novel will not be disappointed. There are some interesting new characters, in particular, a vibrant young American woman and a young man who is trying to go straight after a period in jail. It will be interesting to see if they are developed further in the next novel.
Although the plot appears, initially, to be about humanity's potential for evil, that's not what permeates the novel as a whole. Sadness does, and loss and humanity's great potential for love. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend The Pure in the Heart for anyone looking for a crime novel with a heart as well as a brain. My only problem now is waiting for the next book!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 10 Oct 2005
By A Customer
This book for me didn't live up to expectations. The whole thing felt unsatisfying -there were so many loose ends (including lack of a major plot resolution)that I felt cheated. It was almost as if this was Part 1 of a two part novel, though there is no mention of a sequel. In addition the major character, Simon Serrailler, doesn't come off. Susan Hill attempts to present him as a complex, rounded character, but (unlike the great fictional detectives) he is not lovable or fascinating in spite of his faults. He comes across as cold, priggish and (dare I say) a bit cardboardy.
A third thing I didn't much like was the character stereotyping. Part of the book is set on one of Lafferton's council estates. Has Susan Hill ever been on one? I ask only because of the snobbish presentation of the council estate characters - straight out of the "Daily Mail", all thickoes who live on chips and fry-ups and keep the telly on 18hours a day. I can hear the disdain in the author's voice when she mentions a character preparing "white toast". (Heaven's above! Well, we all know these working class types have never heard of wholemeal) So I ended the book liking Susan Hill rather less, which was a pity. I have enjoyed many of her "straight" novels and so much wanted to love this book, but couldn't. It is readable and well-written, which is why I gave it a 3, but it could have been so much better.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!, 27 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Pure in Heart (Paperback)
I was totally enthralled by Various Haunts of Men, the first in this crime trilogy so was excited to start this next one especially as the third is out in June. And i certainly was not disappointed! Hill is not afraid to tackle tricky subject matter and she does so with aplomb. Her insight into the human psyche is incredible and she manages to make the situations and emotions seem totally believeable. It is also surprising how much content Hill manages to pack in without making the book seem crowded or losing sight of the focus of the story, which twists and turns like a white knuckle rollercoaster ride keeping the reader hanging off every word. But what makes this novel special is the characters. Each one could be a person you would meet or know in your own life and each is so well rounded that they leap off the page. Although it is sometimes disturbing this book is spectacular and thoroughly enjoyable. Anyone who enjoys a good read whether they like crime thrillers or not MUST read this book.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Neither Fish Flesh nor Fowl,,,,,,,,, 11 Nov 2006
By 
Mr. S. J. Bonsor "bonsor2" (Horley, Surrey UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I suspect this the kind of book which will irritate a lot of people: Ostensibly detective fiction, it will have turned off any of the followers of Police Procedurals. Despite having a DCI, Simon Serrailler, as its chief character and despite investigation being talked about, nothing appears to get done. Everyone is very industrious and supportive (including the Chief Constable, and the Chief Superintendant brought in to review the case: hardly believable in both instances) but considering the high-level nature of the case- a child abduction - I would be seriously worried at the lack of progress made during the course of the novel.

Susan Hill appears to be using the detective millieu as a backdrop against which she can develop the characters, primarily Serrailler and his family, but even here I would imagine the serious reader would be frustrated by the casual and aimless way in which so many plot threads turn into dead ends, or are generally inconsequential- if these are being saved up for future use, I've lost interest already.

The central plot motivator is the kidnapping of a nine year old boy and the catastrophic consequences for his family. Sporadically there are chapters which reflect the captured boy's reactions, but these are haphazard, unconvincing and hackneyed. About the only episode which rang true was when the boy's sister, isolated and ignored by her mother's grief,ran away, briefly, as a cry for help.

Against this main plotline there is a half-hearted sub-plot, involving the DCI's family, which fudges the issue of euthanasia (female, 26, physically and mentally handicapped,with the development of a small child).Inference, 'How do we compare the deliberate 'mercy' killing with the {presumed} deliberate, perhaps paedophilic murder of the boy?'.

I think I know what Hill is driving at with this book. She is trying to be complex, trying to create a broader world in which there are no easy resolutions, but unfortunately in doing so she has lost the sort of forward drive which keeps a reader motivated and interested: yes, in real life we frequently get involved with projects and undertakings which have no resolution, but unfortunately life's too short for that lack of focus in a novel.

The central case is unresolved, various characters are flagged up as important but then turn out to be peripheral, important issues are raised and then allowed to wither away or are hinted at without being properly confronted.

I stuck with the book largely because Susan Hill has a natural facility in creating characters but I think she has literally lost the plot here. She should either write a real detective novel or else fully enter the Joanna Trollope territory this hints at: This hybrid doesn't work.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Pure in Heart, 27 Mar 2008
Better than its predecessor The Various Haunts Of Men.....but...once again I find myself battling to like the Serrailler family. There's again GP Cat, now transforming herself into Earth Mother, taking other characters woes and misery and making it her own. We have her saintly, long suffering mother married to a cold unloving pig. Except he doesn't come across like that to me. At least Hill puts some meat on his bones this time, though his acceptance of his wife's crime is difficult to swallow. The family as a whole are irritating and smug and I long for someone to put them in their place.

I had no problem with the fact that the crime wasn't resolved at the end of the novel, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

This feels an odd review to write, as the book itself felt odd to read in many ways. Hill, once again deals with inner pain with great skill and compassion, yet as in the first novel, the Serrailler's let her down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent Susan Hill book, 19 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Pure In Heart: Simon Serrailler Book 2 (Simon Serrailler 2) (Paperback)
Slowly reading through the Simon Serailler series and enoying them. I think Susan Hill is an excellent writer. If you like Peter James/Mark Billingham novels you will certainly like Hill's novels.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pure in heart - Susan Hill, 20 Aug 2010
By 
Maggiemay (Cornwall. England. G.B.) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Pure In Heart: Simon Serrailler Book 2 (Simon Serrailler 2) (Paperback)
I'm new to Susan Hill, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it kept me
interested all the way through.
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