I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for the latest book in the Vera Stanhope series. Many thanks to PanMacmillan and Random Things Tours for having me on the tour and sending me a copy of the book to review.
The Book: Fifty years ago, a group of teenagers spent a weekend on Holy Island, forging a bond that has lasted a lifetime. Now, they still return every five years to celebrate their friendship, and remember the friend they lost to the rising waters of the causeway at the first reunion.
Now, when one of them is found hanged, Vera is called in. Learning that the dead man had recently been fired after misconduct allegations, Vera knows she must discover what the friends are hiding, and whether the events of many years before could have led to murder then, and now . . .
But with the tide rising, secrets long-hidden are finding their way to the surface, and Vera and the team may find themselves in more danger than they could have believed possible . . .
The Review: I started watching the TV series during the pandemic and was hooked, managing to watch every episode before the new series came on TV. I tried reading an earlier book but it was soon after watching the related episode and it was too familiar. However, when I received the email about this book and didn’t recognise the blurb I replied immediately, knowing I wouldn’t have a repeat experience.
I loved this book. The story came alive in my hands and I was completely immersed. Vera herself was exactly the same as on TV (not always the case in adaptations) and on that front it was like spending time with an old friend. The steadiness of her character and the way she works was comforting in its familiarity, and perfect for this investigation.
This was a tricky investigation with various threads to be tugged at, each leading to yet more information. You get a real sense of how frustrating police work can be. Time can be spent following a potential witness or a piece of evidence for it to turn out to be nothing at all, or something completely unrelated. It must be like the world’s most annoying jigsaw puzzle, with missing pieces that turn up in time, but aren’t always guaranteed to appear at all.
Being set on Holy Island meant that the crime and its solution were heavily impacted by the tides, as access to the island is by tidal causeway and it’s completely cut off twice a day for hours at a time. This also gave the parts of the story set here, a completely different atmosphere. It’s one thing to be possibly sharing a building with a murderer, it’s quite another when you’re potentially stuck on an island with one for hours.
I loved the atmosphere and the location descriptions in the book, they made me feel as if I was there, experiencing the everything as the characters themselves did. Vera was fantastic as always, as were Joe and Holly. Now that I’ve read one of the books I’m going to continue to watch it on the TV, but I’m going to supplement that by working my way through the books as well, which will be perfect for filling the gaps between series.
If you’re familiar with Vera in either format then I’m sure you’ll love this. If you’ve yet to experience her you’re in for a treat, but it will be better to start with the first book, The Crow Trap.
Ann Cleeves is the author of more than thirty-five critically
acclaimed novels, and in 2017 was awarded the highest accolade in crime writing, the CWA Diamond Dagger. She is the creator of
popular detectives Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn, who can be found on television in ITV’s Vera, BBC One’s Shetland and ITV’s The Long Call respectively. The TV series and the books they are based on have become international sensations, capturing the minds of millions worldwide. 2022 marks 30 years of publishing with Pan Macmillan.
Ann worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she started writing. She is a member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. Ann also spends her time advocating for reading to improve health and wellbeing and supporting access to books. In 2021 her Reading for Wellbeing project launched with local authorities across the North East. She lives in Northumberland where the Vera books are set. You can find Ann on Twitter and Facebook @AnnCleeves.