Comforts of Home by Susan Hill
It’s often difficult to accurately review a book that is part of a series when you haven’t read the earlier entries, and some of that is in play here. There are references to prior occurrences in the lives of the characters, but the core “mysteries” are stand-alone.
The storylines specific to this book were interesting but somewhat unimaginative. In one, the recuperating DCI, Simon Serrailler, investigates a mysterious murder on a remote Scottish island, while his brother-in-law handles a series of arsons back home in Lafferton, and his sister contemplates a new direction for her career. Happening alongside these storylines are three more: a mother’s crusade to force the police to re-open the investigation into her daughter’s five-year-old disappearance; the travails of the DCI’s elderly father, who returns to Lafferton from a self-exile to France; and the angsty story of the DCI’s nephew who is trying to decide what to do with his life.
Sound like a lot of stories going on? It is, and that’s my issue with this book. There is way too much going on, and the “mysteries” are tied up too neatly, too quickly, and with little imagination. This is a shame, because the author writes quite well. Her descriptions of the Scottish island are wonderfully evocative, and she handles the DCI’s injury with sensitivity and insight. If I could edit this book, I would completely remove the storylines for Richard, Sam, and Cat and concentrate on the murder of Sandy on Taransay and the intertwined stories of Kimberley Still and the arsons. That would move this book from a 3 to a least a 4, maybe a 5 for me. However, I realize fans of the series will shout me down on that, because I sense that the back stories of each character are somewhat beloved. Recommended for fans of the series.
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Publisher: Overlook Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy