Thursday, 27 June 2013

A Question of Identity by Susan Hill

A trial concludes. A jury gives a verdict. One person gets police protection, gets all help from police to get a new identity, gets help to retrain and start a new life. Another cowers in fear. Looks for help. Has nowhere to turn. Lives every moment of the life in mortal fear. The one who gets the police protection and help to start a new life is a killer who has killed at least three elderly women, who gets not guilty verdict as the defence convinces the witnesses that she cannot be sure about the identity of the person. The one who cowers in fear, is his wife that the prosecution convinces that she has no reason to fear and should speak out the truth, if necessary she would be given protection. Irony of justice!?

The story starts with the trial and then moves on to ten years after the event. The killer is retrained and leads a new life. When he sees an opportunity to let loose the inner demons he grabs it. A new settlement for elderly is ready for occupation, as the women move in our killer starts his rampage. 

The story was going fine and all of a sudden too many characters are introduced. Cat, Judith, Richard, Hannah, Sam, Simon and so on. It takes some time to understand the dynamics and relationship between the characters. Oh ya! Simon is the detective. I suppose these are regular characters with whom probably the readers of the series are already acquainted and need no introduction. Not reading any other book in the series it did take some time to understand who is who. While the new identity of the killer is not known, and Simon has to find out, we can guess who quite early. 

I read two horror novellas by Susan Hill and she creates quite an atmosphere, that is the reason I picked up this book, Susan Hill does create an atmosphere during the killing scenes. One of the elderly woman living alone in this settlement, contemplates in the night of starting a small library for the residents and thinks of authors to include the library P D James, Katie Fforde, Ruth Rendell, Denis Lehane, could be a bit raw for some, not Scandinavian Crime which is very violent and meets her end in a rather violent way. Thinking of crime books or reading crime fiction and then getting killed? We all love these thrills, don't we? 


Marce said...

I have heard of Susan Hill but haven't decided which one to start with, I think I had this one but now am thinking maybe not. I didn't realize series.

srivalli said...

Hi Marce, Many mystery books in a series work well as a standalones. It took some time to get to know the characters here, then it worked well. But I think it would have worked better to start at the start of the series. That's what I am going to do! Thanks for stopping by!

TracyK said...

Sorry I missed this earlier, or maybe I saw it but did not read it because I had not read the book yet and wanted to be totally surprised. A very nice review and nice to see one from the viewpoint of someone who has not read other books in the series.

Although I did not like this one so much, I do highly recommend reading the earlier ones. I loved them.

srivalli said...

Thanks Tracy! I will start at the beginning of the series. I do like Hill's writing, I will give the earlier ones a try.