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.

David Knights