In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. On the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family, too.
Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
The case calls Matthew back to the people and places of his past, as deadly secrets hidden at their hearts are revealed, and his new life is forced into a collision course with the world he thought he’d left behind.
Book One of a new series by Ann Cleeves? Oh, yes. Count me in. As it happens, this was originally published as a digital release back in September, 2019. The audiobook was published just this April.
In The Long Call, the reader is introduced to Matthew Venn of the Devon Police. Venn is called out to investigate a body found on the beach at Crow Point.
It is a small village and all knew of the victim, but not actually who he was or his story. Cleeves dives us into the inhabitants, defining, describing the people and the possible relationship, if any, to the victim. The support characters are widely diverse.
During the course of the investigation, we learn more about Venn and his husband, Jonathan. Venn is surrounded by a magnetic group of colleagues, including his partner, DS Jen Rafferty, a dynamo with a chaotic private life and still manages to be extremely effective at her job. The villagers are not entirely onboard with his investigation nor particularly helpful.
It’s a smorgasbord of turmoil, well-developed characters, motives you can’t guess, and a perp who won’t peg as well. But it was a slow burn for me, and perhaps coming from an audiobook delivered in quiet monotone, tended to blur into the background. I had a little problem staying engaged and was only mildly surprised at the conclusion.
It’s sharply character-driven with immersive description into the local countryside. I previously read The Darkest Evening of the Vera Stanhope series and found it to sag somewhat in the middle as well although I may go back to that series as Vera is a “mature” but very competent DCI in Northumberland.
Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, International Mystery and Crime
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Listening Length: 11 hrs, 36 mins
Narrator: Ben Aldridge
Publication Date: April 8, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Long Call [Amazon]
Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five Stars
The Author: Ann is the author of the books behind ITV’s VERA, now in it’s third series, and the BBC’s SHETLAND, which will be aired in December 2012. Ann’s DI Vera Stanhope series of books is set in Northumberland and features the well loved detective along with her partner Joe Ashworth. Ann’s Shetland series bring us DI Jimmy Perez, investigating in the mysterious, dark, and beautiful Shetland Islands…
Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.
While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.
In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.
For the National Year of Reading, Ann was made reader-in-residence for three library authorities. It came as a revelation that it was possible to get paid for talking to readers about books! She went on to set up reading groups in prisons as part of the Inside Books project, became Cheltenham Literature Festival’s first reader-in-residence and still enjoys working with libraries.
Ann Cleeves on stage at the Duncan Lawrie Dagger awards ceremony
Ann’s short film for Border TV, Catching Birds, won a Royal Television Society Award. She has twice been short listed for a CWA Dagger Award – once for her short story The Plater, and the following year for the Dagger in the Library award.
In 2006 Ann Cleeves was the first winner of the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award of the Crime Writers’ Association for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland Quartet. The Duncan Lawrie Dagger replaces the CWA’s Gold Dagger award, and the winner receives £20,000, making it the world’s largest award for crime fiction.
Ann’s success was announced at the 2006 Dagger Awards ceremony at the Waldorf Hilton, in London’s Aldwych, on Thursday 29 June 2006. She said: “I have never won anything before in my life, so it was a complete shock – but lovely of course.. The evening was relatively relaxing because I’d lost my voice and knew that even if the unexpected happened there was physically no way I could utter a word. So I wouldn’t have to give a speech. My editor was deputed to do it!”
The judging panel consisted of Geoff Bradley (non-voting Chair), Lyn Brown MP (a committee member on the London Libraries service), Frances Gray (an academic who writes about and teaches courses on modern crime fiction), Heather O’Donoghue (academic, linguist, crime fiction reviewer for The Times Literary Supplement, and keen reader of all crime fiction) and Barry Forshaw (reviewer and editor of Crime Time magazine).
Ann’s books have been translated into sixteen languages. She’s a bestseller in Scandinavia and Germany. Her novels sell widely and to critical acclaim in the United States. Raven Black was shortlisted for the Martin Beck award for best translated crime novel in Sweden in 200.
Bio and photo from Goodreads.
Ben Aldridge (actor) – Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Ben_Aldridge_(actor)
Benjamin Charles Aldridge (born 12 November 1985) is an English actor. … He is best known for is portrayal of Thomas Wayne in the crime drama series Pennyworth…
©2021 V Williams