Susan Hill continues to explore interesting territory with her Simon Serrailer series. In fact, in many ways, the crime solving stuff is the least important part – it is the vehicle to carry other things.
I agree with other reviewers to a sense of disappointment, slight unreality and rush with the ending – I did find myself being curiously logical and saying ‘Yebbut, yebbut it really can’t just be left here – how would police procedure have to unfold?’ (I don’t think this is a spoiler)
However, the main thrust of the novel is the much more interesting debate about assisted suicide, and also the equally painful debate and fact about the loss of a person, and the identity of a person, through dementia – both for the dementia sufferer themselves – when they don’t remember who they are or where (in their lives) they have been, who or what is the person who is left raging about this. And then of course, the pain for the friends and family, who have lost the person they loved, whilst a stranger seems to have taken up residence in the loved one’s body
There are several characters in this book who are all somewhere along this road of illness and suffering, and more characters who are their carers and family members.
I like the fact that Hill does not provide easy answers (though I think it may be clear where her own ideologies lie) to a reality where there may BE no answer which is a ‘one size fits all’ one. In a sense, there may not even be a ‘right’ answer at all, only the necessity for accommodating the fact that every decision brings pain, grief and heartache.
Serrailer and his personal family dynamic continues to unfold. Hill, as she generally does, uses her detective fiction form as an arena for deeper philosophical debate, without thrusting dry polemic at her readers – we FEEL the debate, and the feeling forces thought about the debate.