Third in the Simon Serrailler trilogy, and the most exciting, THE RISK OF DARKNESS continues the story from where THE PURE IN HEART left off, with the Lafferton police depressed after the child abductions. Simon is restless, wanting more excitement in his life. His sister Cat, a local GP, as usual has a huge workload. Particularly poignant is her young patient Lizzie, who has variant CJD. At the start of the book, Lizzie moves into a hospice, and her distraught husband Max cracks up, taking hostage Jane Fitzroy, a trainee priest.
A child disappears in Yorkshire, and Simon is asked to help the local force in the hunt. This time, the probable perpetrator is caught in a way that certainly fulfils Simon's desire for adventure. But is there any connection with the previous cases? A war of minds is about to begin, becoming the background running through the rest of this tense story.
As before in this series, all the characters have their own concerns which inform and round-out the thriller plot. Cat and her husband Chris, increasingly ground down by the inhumane bureaucracy of the UK medical system, struggle to find an option for their lives and careers that they both can cope with. Jane's elderly mother is attacked, and we become aware of the struggles and difficulties in their relationship. We meet the mother of the suspect, and see how dramatically her life changes as a result of the arrest. Again, tragedy strikes Simon and Cat's own family.
The sympathy the author has for the viewpoints of all her characters, combined with unflinching storytelling, make this book a really great read. Susan Hill has the gift of understanding her characters on the most human of levels, while conveying them to the reader in a completely unsentimental way.