Crime Fiction Alphabet – C is for Ann Cleeves
DI Vera Stanhope has to get fit, and so when she thinks a few lengths in a posh hotel spa and a session in the steam room will appease her doctor, she does not get the results she initially sets out for. Rather inconveniently Jenny Lister is found strangled in the steam room. All thoughts of keeping fit are put to one side and Vera along with her side kick DS Joe Ashworth try and keep one step ahead of the killer.
Who was the victim? Jenny Lister was a social worker, a very private woman, but Vera starts to look for chinks in that privacy to see if perhaps there is a clue to catch her killer.
Meanwhile Connie Masters hears of the death and tries to keep a low profile. This death of her ex-boss would bring the spotlight back on to her after a rather tragic case which ended in a death and Connie’s loss of job. But of them living in the same Northumberland Village means that everyone knows everyone else’s business – don’t they? But why after being alienated for so long does one lady want to get to know her better? Then a young student working at the very place Jenny was killed is found dead, using a similar method and why does water always come into it somewhere? For Vera and her team, time is running out to catch the killer because they eventually see who the next victim will be.
Ann Cleeves scatters this book with twists and turns as well as the inevitable red herrings in the plot line to keep you guessing until the end. You find out about the victims as well as the police. Joe seems to be forever worrying about being in Vera’s shadow, but he knows that despite her rather odd behaviour and manner she gets results and is not afraid to get her hands dirty in terms of detecting and not pushing paper. Charlie, the stereotypical cop, seems lazy but knows when he ahs to work hard to get the results and no doubt admires his DI’s tenacity. Holly is the fresh face member, trying to prove herself, her only competition is Joe, but she cannot see past the fact that he is Vera’s favourite. More importantly Vera is aware of them all and the way they work together.
If you come to this book like I did after having seen the ITV adaptation then you will be more than thrilled because this is much better. (A number of things were changed, added in and left out for television) It moves along well and all ends are tied up at the end, the only loose ends are those of the police, there lives will change, their ambition deepens but for me Vera will be the only one can control them all and bring them and herself to the correct conclusion.
My first Ann Cleeves book and I am glad now that I have found Vera in the pages of a book. When reading I can see Brenda Blethyn but that is not a problem because I think she has the character well. Miss Marple but with no knitting and small sherry at hand. More whiskey and memories of another more difficult life. She fascinates me for some reason.
Although I got this when it was a Daily Deal on Amazon Kindle for two reasons, the tv programme and the cost of the book. If I did not like it then that would be ok. Rather shallow really. However, I know I will not mind parting with money to read more of Vera but also Ann’s other books. I also read from her website that another one of her series of books ‘Shetland’ has been taken up by the BBC. I am off to find Raven Black which is the first in this series.
I read this as part of The Crime Fiction Alphabet Challenge hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.