Shadows in the Street by Susan Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you're looking for a PD James read-alike, Susan Hill's Simon Serrallier series might fit the bill. Adam Dalgliesh is a poet with a deeply private streak, Serrallier is an artist with a deeply private streak. The books are dark procedurals with many well-drawn characters, with Hill's Lafferton providing the same rich lode for stories as London does for James. The biggest difference is that we do get glimpses of Serrallier's personal life, meeting his mother, father, stepmother, triplet sister and her family, throughout the course of the series.
As a cathedral town, Lafferton would appear to be peaceful but there is a red light district; the girls there mostly know each other and (to some extent) look after each other. Loopy Les brings hot drinks and sandwiches some nights, Damien and the Baptists have a van that does the same on other nights. In other town news, there's a new Dean bent on dragging the congregation from the 1622 service to "happy-clappy" modern services, and his wife is making friends and influencing people all over. Thank God for Miles Hurley, the Dean's best friend and second-in-command, who helps smooth over Ruth's excesses (in this case, her decision to form the Magdalene Refuge, for "those poor girls, who, like Mary...."). There's also the murder of two of the prostitutes and attempted murder of a third.
Simon's in Taransay, a very remote Scottish island, recovering from his last case. Returning to Lafferton, he also has to deal with his sister's ongoing grief over her husband's death and reaching a place of emotional ease with his new stepmother and his father's remarriage. But wait! There's more... Sounds complicated? The author is more than capable of handling all this, and more.
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