I’ve been reading non-fiction recently, including two books about the disastrous climb of Mount Everest in 1996 when eight climbers tragically died. Yesterday I finished the latest book by Ann Cleeves, and it was in a way a relief to read about fictional murders rather than tragic actual fatalities, and in lovely welcoming Devon rather than the inhospitable Himalayas!
I’ve read Ann Cleeves’ books for years, before she found deserved fame through her Shetland novels and her Vera stories. I read all her Palmer-Jones, and every Inspector Ramsey books, and enjoyed them at the time but they seem a little dated now! The book I’ve just read is ‘The Heron’s Cry’, the second in her most recent series, Two Rivers. I’ve also read the first one, ‘The Long Call’ published two years ago. They are set in north Devon, which is the next county south of us, so although I don’t know it very well,, we have been down that way many times. The main characters are Detective Inspector Matthew Venn and his two sergeants, Rafferty and Ross and as you might imagine from such a writer as Ann, it’s an intriguing and complex plot, with believable characters, great descriptions of the locations. There are subplots as well as the main police murder investigation, with the everyday difficulties which the three main characters face in their personal lives as well as their relationship with each other.
Ann was interviewed on the radio this morning, on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live in the regular Inheritance Tracks feature where well-known people choose music which has a particular resonance to their lives, or as is described “celebrating the music that special guests cherish and would like to bestow to future generations”. It was fascinating hearing Ann talk about aspects of her life and the importance of her chosen tracks, ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ from South Pacific, and ‘Farewell to Stromness’ by Peter Maxwell Davies. I knew this already, but I was pleased and interested that when she writes a book, she has no idea what the conclusion will be until she works her way through it! I’m the same – not that I’m comparing my books to hers, just our ways of writing!
I very much enjoyed ‘The Heron’s Cry’, and as soon as I started it I could barely put it down; I didn’t guess who had committed the horrible crimes, of course, and never saw the reason they were committed until the end, typical of Ann’s books that she keeps the reader hooked. My only slightly negative comment is that I do find the character of Matthew Venn a little flat – I didn’t feel properly engaged with him as I have done with Ann’s other main characters. He is a very repressed and self-controlled person, so I guess that’s reflected in the way he’s portrayed! One other thing – DON’T read the Ann’s author’s note, until you’ve finished – it does give away an aspect of the book which in my opinion should be a complete surprise; it’s not a clue as to who the culprit is, or the reason why the crimes were committed, but I felt it would have been better for a particular aspect and thread to be a surprise!
Here’s a link to Ann:
PS my featured image looks across to the hills of Devon just in case you recognise this as Somerset!