cover image The Risk of Darkness: A Simon Serrailler Mystery

The Risk of Darkness: A Simon Serrailler Mystery

Susan Hill, . . Overlook, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-1-56567-929-0

Blighted souls and the bleak lives they lead overwhelm the plot of Hill's diffuse and meandering third thriller to feature Chief Insp. Simon Serrailler (after The Pure in Heart ). The fast-paced opening chapters introduce the two main plot lines: a spate of child abductions that have been unnerving the residents of the British town of Lafferton is pinned on an emotionally disturbed young woman, and a man unhinged by grief over his wife's death goes on a psychotic rampage in pursuit of women who look like her. Though these events enmesh all the principal characters—Serrailler, the increasingly reluctant cop; his conscientious physician sister, who's struggling to juggle her home and work lives; and a conflicted female Anglican minister who catches the inspector's fancy—they never cohere or develop in any meaningful way. Instead, Hill expends her energies dwelling on Serrailler's emotional constipation and the behaviors of criminals who are so quirky they begin to parody themselves. (Mar.)