The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill

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The Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill

Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Full of human drama as well as the detective storyline this is a good read with lots of interesting characters, and enough suspense to leave me looking over my shoulder when out after dark now!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Vintage
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0099499282

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This is the fifth novel in Susan Hill's series about the detective Simon Serrailler. Although you could probably follow the story without knowing the previous books I think it does help to have some background on who all the characters are. I really love the way Hill weaves her story around some wonderful character studies. Simon is actually hardly in this novel, and the focus instead is on the 'extras', with a lot of details being put into characters who will only be around for this particular novel but who live and breathe through it wonderfully well.

Cat, Simon's sister, has an important role and I thought she was very well written. I like her as a character very much, and it was interesting to see how she's dealing with her own grief whilst trying to help and support her children as well as working as a doctor. This side of the story flows very much like a human drama rather than crime fiction, and there are times when you do wonder whether the crime fiction element is going to come back into the story, but the drama is so beautifully written that it's a breeze to read, and very compelling.

Through Cat's day to day experiences we're also introduced a little more into the life of the Cathedral and the internal politics that are going on with the appointment of a new Dean. I occasionally felt I was being lectured here, about the need to retain the formalities and traditions of the Church of England and it seemed very much to be a black and white argument of the old ways being good and any new suggestions being bad. However, it introduces more interesting characters as well as facilitating the plot.

I did feel unsettled at times whilst reading the book, in the right sort of crime fiction unease, as the murders just keep coming and you're not sure where the murderer will strike next. The police seem to be helpless, unable to predict what will happen next or to keep anyone safe and their frustration is very believable and also realistic I felt. A couple of days after finishing the book I had to walk across a small park in the dark one night and I spent the entire time half looking over my shoulder, convinced that 'someone' was going to get me! I suppose that shows skillful writing, with Hill's murderer getting under my skin...or perhaps just my gullibility! This is a good story, very addictive to read and worth going back to the earlier stories first to properly appreciate the full range of characters.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: Susan Hill is best known for her ghost stories, and for more spine-chilling you might like to try The Woman in Black.

Susan Hill's Simon Serrailler Novels in Chronological Order

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