What is the Simon Serrailler series about?
Written by an English author of fiction (and non-fiction) books named Susan Hill, also known for her novels The Woman in Black, The Mist in the Mirror, and I’m the King of the Castle, the Simon Serrailler series is a crime series.
Set in the idyllic fictional cathedral town of Lafferton, the stories follow Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler as he investigates murder mysteries in his own style.
Susan Hill was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours, both for services to literature.
How to read the Simon Serrailler Books in Order?
Every book in the Simon Serrailler series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- The Various Haunts of Men – A woman vanishes in the fog up on the Hill in Lafferton. The police have one lead – a pair of expensive cuff-links found in her flat, with a mysterious note attached to them. Then a young girl, an old man, and even a dog disappear in quick succession in exactly the same place. Young policewoman Freya Graffham and Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler are given the task of unraveling the mystery. But can they find the Hill killer before he strikes again?
- The Pure in Heart – A little boy is snatched at the gate of his home while he waits for his lift to school. An ex-con struggling to go straight finds himself drawn back into a criminal ring. A young woman hovers between life and death. Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler is called in to investigate. But with dead-ends mounting up and time running out, has he taken on a case so complex it threatens to defeat him?
- The Risk of Darkness – Children are vanishing. The village of Lafferton is shattered. There are no witnesses and no leads – just a kidnapper at large. Then Detective Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler receives a call: a child has been snatched in Yorkshire. Has the abductor struck again? And will they find this child alive?
- The Vows of Silence – A gunman is terrorizing young women in the cathedral town of Laffterton. What, if anything, links the apparently random murders? Is the marksman with the rifle the same as the killer with the handgun?
- The Shadows in the Street – Serrailler is called back urgently from his sabbatical but by the time he reaches Lafferton another girl has vanished. Then the wife of the Dean at the Cathedral goes missing – has the killer widened their net or is there more than one murderer at large?
- The Betrayal of Trust – Heavy rain falls on Lafferton. As the rainwater slowly drains away, a shallow grave – and a skeleton – are revealed. It doesn’t take long to identify the remains as those of missing teenager, Harriet Lowther, who was last seen sixteen years ago. But a cold case isn’t a priority: if Detective Inspector Simon Serrailler is to solve the case, he will have to do it alone.
- A Question of Identity – One snowy night in the cathedral city of Lafferton, an old woman is dragged from her bed and strangled with a length of flex. DCS Simon Serrailler and his team search desperately for clues to her murderer. All they know is that the killer will strike again, and will once more leave the same tell-tale signature. Then they track down a name: Alan Keyes. But Alan Keyes has no birth certificate, no address, no job, no family, no passport, no dental records. Nothing. Their killer does not exist.
- The Soul of Discretion – Going undercover, he must leave town immediately, change his identity and sever all contact with friends and family. And, more importantly, he must inhabit the mind of the worst kind of criminal. But can he do so without losing everything?
- A Breach of Security (short story) – When a bunch of neo-fascist thugs named The Bulldogs attack a Gay pride march in the sleepy country town of Lafferton, detective Simon Serrailler moves quickly to find the assailants. He’s already got his hands full making security arrangements for a memorial service to honor soldiers returning from Afghanistan. When anonymous threats come in, Serrailler wonders if the Bulldogs are behind these too – and worries that they know the Prince of Wales will be in attendance.
- Hero (short story) – When Simon Serrailler was a rookie constable with the Met, he did something reckless in the course of a night’s work which caused a man’s death. But his act was praised by his colleagues and he was called a hero. Years later, now a Detective Chief Superintendent who has been badly injured in the course of duty, he receives a medal for bravery at Buckingham Palace, while recollecting that fateful night of his early career, when chance disguised itself as bravery.
- Old Haunts (short story) – One hot summer’s day, an old flame turns up at Lafferton HQ and Simon Serrailler is catapulted back to his days as a fresh-faced PC in the Met. That long febrile summer in the early 1990s, London was reeling from one IRA bomb warning after another. Sirens. Blue lights. Tyres screaming. People running. The army called in. And Simon in the thick of it. Until he’s pulled aside and put on a very different kind of job: his first undercover op awaits. Will the young Simon be able to hold his nerve? Or is he walking into a trap?
- The Comforts of Home – DC Simon Serrailler’s devastating last case was nearly the death of him. Recovering on a remote Scottish island, his peace doesn’t last long. When a woman’s body is washed ashore, Simon is pulled into a murder inquiry by the overstretched local police who are desperate for help. But it’s when Simon returns to Lafferton and a cold case is reopened that things start to get dangerous…
- Revenge (short story) – Simon Serrailler is awoken into a hazy dawn by the sharp ringing of his phone. Called out to the scene, he’s told that there’s a body strung up in tranquil Harnham Woods. But on closer inspection it’s an effigy – a carefully made dummy, stirring in the breeze. Simon knows that this is no practical joke. It’s a message.
- The Benefit of Hindsight – Now recuperated after the violent incident that cost him his arm-and nearly his life-DCS Serrailler has returned to work, though he prefers to spend his spare time sketching the medieval angels being restored on the cathedral roof. With crime rates down, Lafferton has been quiet, until one night when two men open their front door to a distressing scene. Serrailler makes a serious error of judgment when handling the incident, and the stress of this, combined with the ongoing trauma of losing his arm, takes its toll.
- A Change of Circumstance – DCS Simon Serrailler has long regarded drug ops in the Lafferton area as a waste of time. Small-time dealers are picked up outside the local secondary school, they’re given a fine or a suspension and away they go. And rinse and repeat. But when the body of a young drug addict is found in neighboring Starly, the case pulls Simon into a whole new way of running drugs. The foot soldiers? Vulnerable local kids like Brookie and Olivia, who will give Simon a bitter taste of this new landscape.
- The Sound of Footsteps – Coming in 2023.
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