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Silent Voices: A Vera Stanhope Mystery Paperback – 20 August 2019
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|Paperback, 20 August 2019||
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250219825
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250219824
- Product Dimensions : 14.17 x 2.34 x 21.08 cm
- Publisher : Minotaur Books (20 August 2019)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
"I do love Vera!" --Val McDermid"Excellent . . . Intricate plotting makes for a compulsive read." --The Independent (UK) "Detective Vera Stanhope is a remarkable creation." --Bookseller (UK) "One of the most appealing fictional detectives to emerge since Andy Dalziel got into his stride." --Martin Edwards, Spintingler Magazine (UK) "Watch out for Ann Cleeves . . . Snapped up by ITV, her creation, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, is the new Frost, played by Brenda Blethyn." --Red magazine (UK) "Cleeves has hit the big time . . . This is going to be a winner!" --BBC Front Row (UK) "An absorbingly cunning mystery." --Daily Mail (UK)
About the Author
ANN CLEEVES is the multi-million copy and New York Times bestselling author behind two hit television series--the BBC's Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall, and ITV's Vera, starring Academy Award Nominee Brenda Blethyn--both of which are watched and loved in the US. The Long Call, the first in the Two Rivers series introducing Detective Matthew Venn, was an instant New York Times bestseller.Shetland is available in the US on Netflix, Amazon Video, Britbox and PBS, and Vera is available on Amazon Video, BritBox and PBS. The first Shetland novel, Raven Black, won the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel, and Ann was awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger in 2017. She lives in the UK.
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Top reviews from Australia
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Vera finds a body in the steam room of the gym where she is reluctantly attempting to follow doctors orders to improve her fitness. The woman a social worker manager has no apparent enemies and is highly regarded in the community if a bit singular.
Then the coincidences start to build up. Not totally unexpected in the sparsely populated north of England. One of her social workers who was involved in a case where a child died has moved unknowingly into the same town. The dead woman's daughter is involved with the son of the local social leader who is highly critical of the social workers.
All the team are involved: reliable and supportive Joe her offsider, Holly the ambitious young detective, and Charlie the dull work horse who makes a fair few of the breakthroughs. Vera rumbles on in her bull in the China shop way all the time revealing through her thoughts how much of an outsider she feels.
The story is complex but Ann keeps it simple and soon you are further than you expect in the book. The ending is completely unexpected unless you have one of those counter intuitive thinking patterns like Vera herself. The clues are always there but you have to unravel them carefully to see their importance. Or you can just read along and enjoy the ride. This is like Agatha Christie without the contrived twists.
The book is Ann Cleves back to her excellent best after a slight dip with."Hidden Depths" the previous Vera novel. Like Rodger Federer dropping the third set we expect the rest of the series will be winners.
Top reviews from other countries
The investigation oscillates between the semi-private world of the health club and the Tyne Valley village of Barnard Bridge, where Jenny lived. Both communities are hives of gossip, rumour, snobbery and infighting, but is there anything that would justify murder? And is there any connection with the death of six year old Elias Jones, the boy Social Services was supposed to protect?
This is by far the best Vera Stanhope novel to date, with the same strengths and none of the weaknesses. Vera is now well established as the sharp-witted, sharp-tongued detective who is not above using Miss Marple's tactic of a cosy chat over a nice cup of tea ("if you're putting the kettle on, pet"), even if she would prefer whiskey.
Once again, Cleeves maintains a brisk pace, using a well crafted blend of narrative and dialogue. She has a strong sense of place and a feel for the way in which landscape shapes the lives of the inhabitants of England's most sparsely populated county. This is used to dramatic effect in a final race against time when even the forces of nature seem determined to thwart the police as they close in on the killer.
If you haven't read any of the other Vera Stanhope novels, you could do worse than start with "Silent Voices".
The victim in this book is a social worker, found dead in a sauna by our very own Vera, yes an unlikely habitat for our steely detective, but even Vera realises she is mortal and had taken the advice to get some exercise and swimming appealed the most.
Vera is very much hoping that Jenny Lister died of natural causes but it isn’t to be and I chuckled to watch her brazen it out to her colleagues who were called to the scene to investigate the murder, not that they’d let even the merest whisper of surprise escape their lips in front of the formidable Detective Inspector.
Ann Cleeves gives us a puzzle with plenty of suspects, nearly everyone who appears could be viewed with suspicion, whilst managing to be thoroughly entertaining at the same time. With characters to become involved with, not least Vera’s sidekick, Joe Ashworth who finds Vera’s demands are in direct conflict with those of his wife during the course of this book this really does fit the bill as a modern police procedural. The sub-genre is one where I firmly believe the key investigator, in this instance Vera, needs to move the investigation along, despite real-life, this isn’t really a team sport and certainly not easy when the clues seem to point in different directions. Vera is the power behind the investigation without relegating her colleagues to idiots, they are just don’t shine quite as brightly as she does! The other secret of a success in this genre is to ensure the reader is invested in the investigation and the asides to the rest of the team are inserted just often enough to make sure that everything is explained well without ever entering that dangerous whiff of being patronising.
I like my crime books to have some humour and Vera’s very dry variety fits the backdrop of murder incredibly well with the perspective changing from third person to first so that we ‘hear’ Vera’s opinions in the raw so to speak, as well as watch others jump to attention to do her bidding, she really is an imposing character. I’m also a fan of probing the stories behind the headlines and at the time of publication of Silent Voices, there were lots of stories in the UK papers about Social Workers and their perceived failings. The author is thereby allowing the readers to feel they had their finger on the pulse of the debate whilst also encouraging a look at the issues from a number of viewpoints, not distilled into a bald headline which can’t ever take in the complexities of the whole issue.
One of the biggest draws of this particular lead character is her undisguised love of the drama of a murder investigation which really pulls the story forwards and how refreshing to have a Detective inspector who isn’t so hung up on the politics of the force that she is afraid to take risky decisions. The plot is unbelievably tangled with the reader needing to concentrate almost as much as Vera on the minutiae of information to be even within a whisker of a chance of solving the crime, and it is brilliantly executed – no saggy middle for Vera Stanhope, well not in the book although I would imagine stumbling across a dead body in the sauna is probably gives her just the excuse she wants to hang up her swimsuit!
I will definitely be reading the next book in this series and I would not hesitate to recommend this novel - along with its predecessors - to those who enjoy climactic crime thrillers.
I do enjoy Ann Cleeves descriptions, most of the characters are believable and very human, there is humour in her writing too, so there is lots to like I just wish she'd engage her feminist side when writing about Vera and maybe have one single person say something positive about her, rather than the constant descriptions of her being dowdy, frumpy, grumpy, fat, ugly, unlovable..... there's good in everybody and looks and size are not everything.