The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill

So far this year I’ve been reading from my own bookshelves – books I’ve owned before 1 January. I’ve had The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill, the 6th in the Simon Serrailler series, for nearly a year now. Like the earlier books, this one is  character-driven, concentrating on the people involved in the crime and Simon’s family, and also covering several ethical/moral/medical issues.

The crime element concerns a cold case, that of a teenager missing for 16 years. After flooding causes a landslip on the Moor her body comes to the surface together with that of an unknown female found in a shallow grave near by.The cold case is not a priority as the police force is struggling with staff shortages and cuts – Simon has to solve the cases mainly on his own, with the occasional help from DS Ben Vanek.

But the police investigations are not the main subject of this book. It focuses on the problems of ageing, hospice care, Motor Neurone Disease, assisted suicide, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. A lot to cope with all at once and at times I found The Betrayal of Trust a deeply depressing book.

Having said that, as with Susan Hill’s other books, this is fluently written, looking at all sides of the issues, highlighting the dilemma facing those with terminal and debilitating illnesses, and those looking after dementia patients. The Serrailler family life has moved on from the last book, but Simon’s strained relationship with his father continues. He fails in love with a stunningly beautiful woman, which causes yet more complications – he just  doesn’t seem capable of having a happy relationship!

Although this is a quick read it’s also rather dark, with some dodgy and sinister characters and I was expecting it to be better than it is. It is a complex novel but the solution to the crime mystery soon becomes evident and is rather rushed at the end. There are several issues left unresolved and I hope they will be clarified in the next book in the series, A Question of Identity, which is next up for me to read.

15 thoughts on “The Betrayal of Trust by Susan Hill

  1. Love your new look, Margaret! Very simple and clean.

    This series by Susan Hill is one that has been on my TBR for a long, long time. I know I will get to it at some point. So many series that I want to try. In any case, I am always drawn in by stories that have a focus on aging, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and even hospice care. Having lost both my parents to dementia and Alzheimer’s and then my sister this last year to lung cancer (and all 3 were on hospice care at the end), it might seem I would want to avoid those issues. But, I guess I sometimes look for characters that seem to be where I have been. Anyway, I will move the first book in the series up my list and see if I can get to it this spring. Have you ever listened to any of these on audio? I might try that.


    1. Thanks Kay, I’m drawn to those topics too – I can also relate to those topics, although not Motor Neurone Disease, which sounds horrific. I suppose I was not expecting this book to be so centred on them. I’ve never listened to any of the books in this series on audio – somehow, I never think of listening to an audio book unless I’m in the car!


  2. I too love the new look of your blog, Margaret.

    I read the first book in this series and then got stuck as book two is about a missing child I believe and that’s a subject I find hard to cope with. She’s a good writer though and two of her non-fictions, The Magic Apple Tree and Howards End is on the Landing, are two of my all time favourite books.


    1. Thanks Cath. Sometimes a topic is just too hard to read about and I find missing children an especially difficult subject too. I haven’t read The Magic Apple Tree, but have read Howards End is on the Landing – most enjoyable!


  3. Margaret – Your blog look really is fantastic. As to the book, it sounds like a well-written entry into the series. I have to admit I like stories like that, that link the present with a ‘cold case.’ Glad you enjoyed it.


  4. This looks great! I’ve got a couple of the Simon Serrailler books that I picked up in a second hand shop but I’ve yet to read them. They’re not the first books in the series, but it makes sense to read at least one of them before buying more. I like her standalone spooky writing, so fingers crossed! And I agree with Margot; I too enjoy a cold case element in a book.


    1. Crimeworm,actually I think it’s best to read these books in order, which is isn’t always easy, but well worth it because as David says (see next comment) they form an ongoing story of Simon and the rest of his family. I have read some of her later standalone books – but think the Serrailler books are better.


  5. I was a fan of Susan Hill’s for some years but somehow got off of her books. Thank you for reminding me of her; I really must get back to reading her books in order. I am drawn to stories about dementia and physical illness because that has been my life. My father and aunt had Alzheimer’s and now my husband has Parkinson’s dementia and I think it helps me to see how fictional characters get through these things. With my physical illness as well, I think it helps me get through the difficulties of my life and keep perspective about it.


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