The Benefit of Hindsight

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 02 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

Fabulous series another great read in this series.Simon Serririllarback at work after a horrific accident.Susan Hills writing her characters never fail to draw me in keep me reading late into the night.A terrific addition to the series #netgalley#randomhouseuk
Was this review helpful?
** spoiler alert ** I received a free digital copy of this book on exchange for an honest review.

I've always enjoyed Susan Hill's writing so was looking forward to reading the latest book in her Simon Serrailler series. I haven't read the rest of the series (still in my tbr) so i wasn't sure what to expect.

The story focuses on distraction burglaries taking place in the local neighbourhood. The first burglary is a young, male couple who are living an opulent lifestyle in a farmhouse. The burglars pretend to be lost and few days later write to offer them tickets to the opera (and rob them while they are out). The second burglary is against a local businessman and his wife who have just donated money to the police. In the robbery they are disturbed and the wife is killed. Simon is sent to investigate the burglaries and murders with his team.

The story also weaves in a story about a couple with a newborn baby and how the woman is convinced something is genetically wrong with the baby. Simon's sister is the local private doctor and she gets drawn into their complicated relationship.

I liked how the book centered on Simon, his relationship with his team and his immediate family. However I was confused that by the end of the book the reader knows nothing about who committed the burglaries...left unresolved?

It was a well written book with detailed characters but for me having unresolved plot lines Is really frustrating
Was this review helpful?
Trying to deal with his own problems Simon Serallier needs to focus on a crime which has targeted the wealthy and has specific items on their 'shopping' list.
He is trying to do this while dealing with his issues, and lapses of health and judgements.

A good novel but the focus on the detectives issues detracts from the story and hinders the narrative.
Was this review helpful?
The massively underrated Susan Hill returns to form with the gripping and gritty tenth instalment in the long-running, critically acclaimed Simon Serrailler crime fiction series, and I must say I am overjoyed that the standard has risen to what it was a couple of books ago when I sadly had to face the possibility that one of my all-time favourite set of police procedural's was rapidly losing steam and at its natural conclusion. Fear not - she is back. From the opening pages, we are drawn into an absorbing, exquisitely constructed mystery with plenty of pep and pizazz and a cast who feel like friends now we have been in this together for the long haul. The plethora of twists and turns, peaks and troughs are well thought out propelling the narrative forward in style and holding you more captive with each additional turn of the page.

Anyone who appreciates multifaceted and sophisticated, detail-oriented stores will simply adore these books. Given they are part of a series I recommend reading them in chronological order as intended simply to get the most out of them, however, that is certainly not a necessity and it would be the perfect time to take the plunge now that Ms Hill has penned the most addictive entertaining instalment to date; it makes me incredibly excited that Simon is back in business and that we will be reacquainted again for another thrilling adventure in the not so distant future. This is crime writing at its finest; raw, gutsy, undiluted, potent and written with a wonderful flair that is difficult to describe until you experience it for oneself. Many thanks to Chatto & Windus for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I was really disappointed with the previous book in this series (The comforts of home) and was hesitant to pick this one up but I'm so glad I did. It feels like a true return to form with a nice balance  of the professional police work and the family lives of Simon, Cat etc. I will be recommending this to all library customers who enjoy a good crime novel
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to Random House U.K. Vintage/Chatto & Windus for an eARC via NetGalley of Susan Hill’s ‘The Benefit of Hindsight’ in exchange for an honest review.

This is the tenth in her popular DCS Simon Serrailler series of police procedurals. I have read all but the ninth, ‘The Comforts of Home’, so have a fairly strong background on the characters and setting.

Serrailler has returned to his position with Lafferton CID after a period away recuperating from the devastating injury that cost him his arm. (Clearly I need to read Book 9!) Things initially are quite quiet in terms of crime but then there is a high end burglary that utilises a sophisticated technique to gain access to the property. Simon makes a decision in respect to the investigation that subsequently endangers his professional reputation.

Meanwhile, his sister, Dr. Cat Deerbon, has left the NHS for private practice and is dealing with two difficult cases involving local women, both which call upon her investigative skills.

As with the others in this series this is as much a character-led drama as a police procedural with aspects of family life and various social issues linked to Lafferton integrated into the narrative alongside the crime that is being investigated.

The title’s meaning is made clear when Simon discusses with Cat the nature of their professions: “Doctors, coppers–we make decisions all the time, we make judgement calls. Sometimes we’re wrong, sometimes we’re right, sometimes we just get away with it and sometimes we don’t.”

While sufficient background is provided, this is a series that I feel is best read in order to understand the development of the characters over time.

These are characters that I have taken a journey with and recognise the quality of Susan Hill’s writing and consider it literary crime fiction. The poignant final pages brought me to tears. I certainly recommend this novel and the series as a whole.
Was this review helpful?
I love Susan  Hill and was not disappointed with this book even though I am not really a huge fan of police/crime novels. I hadn't read the other 9 books in this series but I feel that I didn't really lose anything from the story for this. 

The novel had lots of interesting elements for me. I enjoyed the background of the characters involved in this case, especially the main character, Serailler. Again, not having read the other books I was slightly disadvantaged in what had happened to him previously but I did come to realise that the 'trauma' he had been involved with had left him with mental health issues (or this was my take on it, at least!). I found this a very interesting character development. 

The actual crime itself was interesting and wasn't lost in the characterisation of the main players and I felt satisfied with the storyline. 

I absolutely love the gothic novels by Susan Hill but this has been a real eye-opener to her other talents as a writer. I enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book for review.

This book is part of the Simon Serralier series. I haven't read any of the other books in the series before but still enjoyed this book. 

There are a lot of characters in the book and each chapter is centred around different groups of characters. As you keep reading you find that they are all linked in some way. Initially I did get a little confused as to who was who but once I got more into the story that wasn't a problem.
The characters are interesting but I felt some were under developed. However, this could be because I haven't read other books in the series which could give more detail about the characters.

The plot centres around a professional gang of robbers and Serralier's attempts to find the gang whilst dealing with his own issues. I found the initial robbery very predictable and had guessed it would happen. 

I found this book very easy to read and got through it surprisingly quickly. I was disappointed with the ending and found it quite abrupt. I felt that some loose ends hadn't been tied up but maybe this would be done in the next book in the series.

I would definitely look into reading the other books in this series.
Was this review helpful?
A great read - and my introduction to the Simon Serrailler series. Though, I have to say, the most interesting character in this story was not Simon but his sister Cat who is juggling a high-pressure job (she is a GP), a second marriage with three children between them, and a needy elderly (and quite unpleasant) father. 

Suspenseful and insightful, recommended for those who like detective fiction with a lot of human insight and family drama alongside. 

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
One of my favourite authors and she doesn't disappoint. I got drawn into caring about all the characters and found the interwoven storylines interesting. And, of course, who could manage not to get involved in the lives of Simon and Cat?
Was this review helpful?
It is a while since I last read a Simon Serrailler novel, but it was easy to slide back into the characters and I didn’t feel that I needed any more backstory to enjoy this most recent novel.

Susan Hill writes her characters with great clarity and sympathy and as ever, it is the exploration of character that drives this book.

Simon Serrailler has returned to work and we can see at first hand that he is still struggling with PTSD and the impact on his mental health of the recent trauma he has suffered after losing his arm.  Simon’s sister, Dr Cat Deerbon, now working in private medicine with an on call at home Doctor service, has a new patient who is worrying her. Nothing she can quite put her medical finger on, but she is worried that a new mother is not bonding with her baby and she is concerned for the welfare of both the mother and the child.

We meet two couples who are blessed with being able to live surrounded by the best of everything and who have the good taste to invest their money in art works. But that’s exactly why they have been targeted by thieves who know how to fence the best of these artefacts and have developed quite a sophisticated routine for gaining access to the homes. When one of the burglaries goes tragically wrong, a decision made by Simon will come back to haunt him.

Susan Hill’s writing is, as ever, full of beautifully observed moments, is rich in character depth and explores relationships within families especially well. The complicated relationship between Simon, Cat and Kieron, Cat’s husband and Simon’s boss is particularly well explored.

I actually shuddered as I read the scenes pertaining to Cat and Simon’s ageing father, Richard; a man I hope never to meet the likes of.

Hill weaves her detective and medical mysteries into the fabric of this family with smooth strokes and an easy style. Her crimes show the human cost of wrongdoing and the title could not fit any better.

I did though, think that the narrative ended slightly abruptly – I actually wondered if I had a copy that missed the last couple of pages. But no, true to form this is a book where resolution is not the key issue; rather the characters and their situations are what matters.

Verdict: Finely observed, beautifully written, character driven crime fiction of a high order.
Was this review helpful?
I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for an advance copy of The Benefit of Hindsight, the tenth novel to feature DCS Simon Serailler of the Lafferton police.

It has been a quiet time for Lafferton CID so there are plenty of officers to investigate what appears to be a high end, professional burglary. The decisions, however, that Simon takes are not universally popular with his team and end up bringing his professional judgement into question. In the meantime his sister, Dr Cat Deerbon, is settling in to her new job at Concierge Medical, a private GP service, but one case is troubling her, Carrie Pegwell and her pregnancy.

I enjoyed The Benefit of Hindsight, which, as ever, is a crime investigation attached to an examination of character and family life. The investigation side of things is fairly perfunctory in that certain events lead to other events and the police react. There isn’t even a concrete solution to the crime. Instead Ms Hill prefers to concentrate on the human side and the consequences of our decision making. The title is a good indication of her theme. 

I must admit that having read most of the novels in the series I have an interest in the doings of Simon and Cat so I found the novel quite compulsive and this is despite it having many features I don’t like, like a multiple viewpoint narrative, a less than convincing investigation, an inconclusive ending and a baffling protagonist. You would think that after ten novels that I would have a good affinity with Simon Serailler but to be honest his motivations elude me and I just find him selfish and lacking empathy.

The Benefit of Hindsight is a good read which I have no hesitation in recommending.
Was this review helpful?
With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.

I am a big fan of the Detective  Chief Superintendent Simon Serailler series and have read all 10 books and short stories.   They are sophisticated crime novels that focus not just on crime but Simon and his family.  Sister Dr Cat Deerbon, brother in law (and boss) Keiron, and her sons Sam and Felix.  it is always nice to pick up a book from a long running series, it is like meeting old friends.

 The prose is beautifully written and I love that the reader gets to understand the victims life before any incidents occur.

In the latest book both Simon and Cat learn what decisions they would make with the benefit of hindsight.

One evening a man and woman knock on Tim and Ade`s door to use their home phone.  Later Tim and Ade receive opera tickets from the couple to thank them.  However whilst they were away their house is burgled and antiques worth thousands were stolen.  When Simon investigated he made the operational decision not to report the burglary to the media.  However this was a mistake when local businessman and philanthropist Declan McDermid and his wife Cindy came home during the burglary.  The burglars killed Cindy and severely injured Declan.  

Carrie was pregnant but she had sixth sense throughout the pregnancy that the baby would die.  Carrie has a healthy baby girl but she has problems bonding and refuses to name her daughter.  Cat is sure that Carrie has postnatal depression but she is worried that the baby is too still and sleepy. 

On the home front Simon meets an old flame goes on a date with one of his DC`s Fern Monroe.    There is a lot more to the story but the plot is too intricate to explain.  I was a little disappointed that the case was concluded a bit too abruptly but it didn't spoil the story for me.

I am glad to say Susan back in top form after the previous book The Comforts of Home.  I cannot recommend this series highly enough, I can't wait for the next book.
Was this review helpful?
It’s always good to be back in the world of Lafferton. Lots of strands in here, which are all expertly woven together. Enjoyed this one, a nice easy read which was just what I needed this week. 
Susan Hill can spin a story and it’s domestic setting is perfect, with believable and consistent characters
Was this review helpful?
This is the first Simon Serrailler crime novel I have read. At no point did I feel I was missing out on the back-story and, as far as I am aware, no fans of the series think that any words are wasted filling in details for we late starters either.
There is a good mix of human interest, crime and detection which kept me interested; it was difficult to put the book down until the last page. However, when I had finished it, I felt a little short-changed, because the loose ends were not all tied up, especially as far as the detective work was concerned. Maybe that's been left until the next book in the series ...
With thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the book in exchange for this honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This was much better than the last book which I didn't enjoy very much. This was much more like the previous books in the series which I have loved. It actually made me cry in places. Very good book.
Was this review helpful?
Simon Serailler returns in Susan Hill's The Benefit of Hindsight and it is another superbly written masterpiece.

This is a crime/ police novel but is so much more with every word and sentence beautifully crafted by an author who is definitely at the top of her game.

As with previous novels in this series there is a lot of focus on the main characters' lives, feelings and issues but this only adds to the overall enjoyment of the book 

The underlying crime which is investigated by Serailler doesn't get lost in all of the above as the author uses it to show the impact on peoples' lives.

Overall this is an outstanding book and definitely recommended
Was this review helpful?
I love this series and always pop straight out to buy the new instalment. In this novel the crime being investigated is a burglary. A couple enjoying a quiet evening in their remote cottage are disturbed by a young man and woman, who are stranded after their car has broken down. While one of the couple shows the man to the phone, his husband strikes up a conversation with the girl. They have a cup of tea and talk about the artwork hanging around the house. The following week a letter of thanks is received from the girl plus two tickets to see the ENO perform. Unfortunately, on their return home after the opera they find their cottage burgled and their precious art collection gone. 

The detective solving this crime is Simon Serrailler and he makes a big decision early on by ordering a news blackout. His reasoning is that if all goes quiet the perpetrators will think they’ve got away with it and plan another burglary. This backfires when local businessman Declan McDermid and his wife return early from a police charity reception to find their house being broken into. The target is their art collection, including priceless Warhol prints. Yet, come the morning, local doctor Cat Deerborn pops in for a coffee with Cindy McDermid to find the couple tied up, beaten and bleeding. When Cindy dies of her injuries will Serrailler’s decision be called into question? 

Simon Serrailler is intriguing as a central character. He doesn’t give anything away. I’m never sure what his thinking or motivation is. In the past I have shared his love interest’s frustrations as he doesn’t seem to need them at all. Even after this many novels I don’t fully know what to make of him. I suppose he fulfils the ‘flawed detective’ archetype - wedded to work, unable to maintain a relationship, handsome and thoroughly inaccessible. In this novel, I feel that Serrailler is given more emotional depth. He is now a wounded hero, struggling to accept a life-changing injury he received in the line of duty. The calm, cool surface he has always tried to maintain covered glimpses of anger and in this novel we finally see that surface crack. It seems he is only able to find peace of mind when drawing and as he starts to suffer chest pains, breathlessness and feelings of doom it becomes clear that a lifetime of bottling up his emotions will have consequences. I welcomed this aspect to his character, because it made him more accessible and human. 

 In the past I have always been drawn to his sister Cat and her family. They are the warm centre of these novels and her struggle to be the woman of the family, serve her patients and be Mum to her own kids feels real. I was especially touched by her struggle nursing her terminally ill husband until his death earlier in the series. Here we find Cat struggling to reconcile various different parts of her life. She is one of the ‘middle’ people in society; coping with parents in declining health while still having children at home. Cat and Simon’s father is as judgemental as always, and continues to treat women as objects. Cat is torn between daughterly duty and the responsibility she feels for his wrongdoing. At work she is torn between principle and having a life outside her patients. Now working for a private GP company she is called upon by NHS colleagues and her own conscience to justify working in the private sector. Finally she is worried about Simon, but torn by loyalty to her new husband who happens to be the Chief Constable and Simon’s boss. 

It is one of Cat’s patients that caught my imagination and is one of the most intriguing parts of the novel. Carrie Pegwell is pregnant when Cat is first called out to see her part way into the novel, but Cat can’t detect any joy or expectancy. In fact she finds Carrie listless and depressed, while her husband is largely detached from the pregnancy and his wife. Carrie has become obsessed with the idea something is wrong with her baby yet hasn’t been for any of the recommended tests or scan. Cat is the first doctor she has seen, but even with reassurances Carrie will not accept her baby is healthy and her pregnancy normal. Cat suspects a fixation borne of anxiety, but can’t discount the fact that mums often have a sixth sense when it comes to their children. I found myself reading ‘just one more chapter’ to see what happened when the baby was born and where this strange couple fit into the larger story. 

I found the novel gripping enough to keep turning the pages and read it in a day (and one very late night). I enjoyed the progression of the characters lives, especially changes within the family dynamic as Cat’s children grow into adults. Towards the ending I did have that experience, peculiar to kindle books, where I raced on and on then hit the ending suddenly as if I’d come round a corner and hit a tree. It felt very abrupt and as if things were unfinished; some characters were in limbo and some crimes went unpunished. I had to go back and read the last few chapters again to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. This could be a deliberate cliffhanger for the next novel, but could also be a comment on a life where not every ending is neatly tied up in a bow.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book, I feel that the author is back on track after the previous book was a little disappointing. It was fast-paced and kept me hooked, I enjoyed it very much.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone. 
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me read this in exchange for a review, I will leave a review on Amazon when it is released.
Was this review helpful?
THE SIMON Serailler novels are among of the pleasures of British police procedurals, multi-stranded tales as much about the detective inspector’s family as they are the crimes.

Susan Hill is a master storyteller, making even the most mundane incident readable, and while her crime novels are slow-burning, they do burn. They are never less than engrossing.

The various strands eventually come together, and thanks to her skill with characterisation and subject matter there is usually an emotional pull, at times devastating.

This latest hardback sees Serailler with a real case to investigate, after treading water in the last novel The Comforts of Home while recovering from the traumatic undercover mission that made up the previous novel.

A young couple turn up at a remote cottage needing help after their car breaks down – but this is a cover story so they can case the joint. A gang later raids the house, while the occupants are away, to steal expensive antiques and artworks.

When the gang strikes again they graduate to murder: and the girl involved in the initial visit realises her boyfriend is involved in something more serious than she thought.

This novel builds nicely, with more happening than in The Comforts of Home, but we gradually realise Serailler hasn’t truly recovered, and he could end up making an error of judgement.

Fans should be satisfied with this book, and I did enjoy reading it, but I was disappointed that one of the main plot strands didn’t get fully tied up, or finished so abruptly that I missed it.
Was this review helpful?