The Comforts of Home

by Susan Hill
The Overlook Press, November 2018, $26.95

Though Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler survived a near-fatal attack in his last outing The Soul of Discretion (2014), he’s far from out of the woods at the start of The Comforts of Home. Adjusting to a catastrophic injury and the idea that he might not be able to return to his former life and career, he moves temporarily to a remote Scottish island where the bleak and stormy landscape seems to mirror his own emotions.

While recuperating, Serrailler is pulled into the murder of a woman who lived on the island, while also being kept busy on a cold case provided by his boss, Chief Constable Kieron Bright. He is also dealing with the fact that his sister, Cat, and Bright recently married, and that his father, from whom he is somewhat estranged, has recently come back into his life.

Both the pacing and the setting enhance this story, which starts out slowly as Serrailler adjusts to his injuries and picks up speed as he returns to full strength. Other characters, such as the mother of the daughter at the center of the cold case, and the man who is believed to have murdered her, weave in and out of the main storyline, adding more detail and allowing the reader a better understanding of the challenges facing the detective. Everything finally comes to a head as Serrailler returns to his home city of Lafferton, where a number of arsons and the case that he has been investigating collide.

While the characters are strong and the setting is spot-on, it does take some patience to wait for Serrailler to get to work, and fans of dramatic action may not find what they’re looking for here. Having come so close to death, Serrailler must first face his own demons, and there’s no rushing the journey back.

Vanessa Orr
Teri Duerr
November 2018
The Overlook Press