The vows of silence by Susan Hill.
In this, the fourth Simon Serailler mystery, Simon's sister Cat, along with her husband Chris and their three kids, have just returned from a 9-month sabbatical in Australia. Chris thinks he is having a very difficult time recovering from jet lag, but it's something much, much worse.
Simon's mother Meriel and his sister Martha have recently passed away. Having been extremely close to his mother, Simon is somewhat disturbed when he realizes that his father is seeing someone.
Their old family friend Karin has come out of remission from cancer, and is very ill in hospice.
Amidst all these family issues, young women in Lafferton are being killed, and Simon's squad is in charge of the investigation. The biggest problem is that the victims don't appear to have any common characteristics, and the police are flummoxed. They consider the idea that there may be more than one killer, but that seems very far-fetched in the small community.
Ms. Hill combines these disparate threads and weaves in several others into a wonderfully well-constructed novel. The characters are all well-described and even the small glimpses we have of the murder victims show us a human being with a personality.
Simon Serailler is an angst-ridden, solitary police detective, a cliched character in a dark genre, yet this story still grips the reader and wants to be read in a single sitting.
A fifth book in the series, Shadows in the Street, is due in April 2010.