Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Hill is a British author and the story is set in Britain. Specifically it is set in the small city/town of Lafferton. The dialog is light on the British dialect too depending on the character who's speaking. The story follows multiple threads of narrative among various residents of Lafferton, among them, Simon's sister, who's a local doctor who cares deeply for her patients. A close reader who pays attention to the clues set forth by the chapters from the perspective of the culprit will deduce his/her identity long before the story comes right out and reveals it.
Unbeknownst to Simon and greater Lafferton, an anonymous and previously unknown serial killer stalks the residents of the town. When DS Freya Graffham, a new arrival to both Lafferton and its police force, catches a missing persons case that yields few leads, few clues and a blank picture of the solitary, private missing woman who left no family or friends, Graffham knows there's something more sinister to the disappearance. However, absent concrete evidence to this end, her superior won't let her waste more resources on a case that is going no where fast. Instead Graffham continues working the case in her spare time and off hours based on her instinct that there is something buried beneath the surface. A look into past unsolved missing persons cases in Lafferton yields a few more cases of missing persons with tenuous similarities to Graffham's current case. A pattern soon begins to take shape: of people who disappear while out for a walk alone on the Hill in Lafferton, people who are never seen again.
In the subplots of the various residents' stories a theme in which New Age, alternative medicine and its effectiveness is examined as well as the various charlatans that prey upon the vulnerable people seeking cures for various ailments. How does this connect to the disappeared?
One quibble I have with this novel is that while it is billed as a Serrailler mystery, the man himself is on the back burner, and he is rarely seen and thus remains an enigma even by novel's end. This is frustrating because the reader wants to know more about him. However, Freya Graffham is clearly the star of this story while the series headliner plays a minor supporting role. Even Serrailler's sister has a larger role than he does.
Hill crafts a slow burning mystery that is as much about the disappeared and the serial killer as it is about examining alternative medicine and the residents of Lafferton connected in various ways to the Serrailler family. One can't help but fear that the calculating, diabolical person responsible for the disappearances is someone familiar or close to the Serrailler family, a family steeped in the medical profession.
The heart pounding climax is followed by a nail biting, sad ending. The characters, even minor characters, are vividly drawn and the reader feels they know something of them, except for Simon Serrailler who remains an opaque, enigmatic and flat character. Everything we know about him is second hand, shared in dialog or conversation between other characters rather than learned by seeing the story through his eyes and experience. For this reason, considering the novel is called a Simon Serrailler mystery and is one of a series of Serrailler mysteries, I'm disappointed and feel as if it's false advertising to call it a Serrailler mystery. As a result I feel rather ambiguous or indifferent towards this novel. It is available for borrowing in county.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
When Holly's 16, her Italian grandmother, Camilla, reads her Po River stones for Holly's love fortune: Holly's one true love will like sa cordula, a nasty, detestable, old world delicacy of stuffed lamb intestines and peas. Yes, you read that right. Stuffed. Lamb. Intestines. Which is even worse than stuffed pig's stomach, Pennsylvania Dutch delicacy as it were.
Anyway. In the years following college Holly has trailed one man after another across the country and back again and cross country again, content to allow her love life and relationships dictate her life and where she lives it. Meanwhile, she's 30 now and has endured an endless string of go nowhere, dead end relationships with men of whom none liked sa cordula and thus, were not her true love. This knowledge serves as small comfort for a broken heart when Holly's latest relationship ends suddenly. Despairing that true love may not be in the cards for her, Holly also realizes that she's neglected finding herself and establishing an enjoyable career for the sake of seeking a lasting love.
In the wake of Holly's most recent failed love affair and shattered heart, she returns home to her grandmother's small bungalow on insular Blue Crab Island, off the coast of Portland, Maine. Her grandmother, a proprietor of a famous fortune telling business, successful Italian cooking school, and Italian food take out business, comforts Holly. But two weeks after Holly's return, her grandmother dies, leaving Holly everything--the businesses and the bungalow. Despite the fact that she's not all knowing like her grandmother and cannot cook to save her life, Holly is determined and desperate to keep the cooking businesses going as a legacy to her grandmother. Before long Holly realizes that cooking isn't just a tribute to her grandmother, it's also a comfort to her and has turned out to be something that she loves doing.
As Holly struggles to keep the businesses going, she bonds with the students of her first, tiny cooking class, forming friendships and healing broken hearts and finally finding a home for herself. On the surface this is a love story, however, it is also about the healing powers of food and friendship.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Evenfall's chapters rotate among three perspectives. Frank, the recently dead beloved uncle, whose spirit haunts the farmhouse passed down the generations of his family, spends his days dwelling on the past: mainly about what was, what should have been and the consequences of the actions taken in response to events beyond his control. Of one thing Frank is sure: he made the wrong choice by marrying the wrong sister and staying in rural Hartman, Connecticut.
Gert, the old, prickly aunt, who abandoned both Frank and her family when it became clear that leaving Hartman with Frank was no longer possible; she was driven by the determination that staying was not a decision she could live with. The years she spent away from home, the decisions she's made to cut out of her life the people she once loved most, have cost her dearly.
Andie, beloved niece of Frank and Gert, returns to her uncle Frank's Hartman farm and the only stable home she's ever known to help her aunt Gert clean it out and ready it for sale. Andie's still healing from a failed love affair with a man both poorly matched and unfaithful to her; she hopes to spend a quiet summer alone with her aunt before moving on to a job in the fall. Instead she falls into another love affair with a man ten years younger than her, whom she used to babysit and who has loved her for years.
As much about the sacrifices we make for ourselves and for our families and the regrets left in the wake of these sacrifices when life and love doesn't turn out as we planned. In the end is the cost of the sacrifice worth the weight of the regret? Do we make peace with the life we have or do we let the bitterness of disappointed dreams change us?
I recommend you check this book out the next time you visit the library.