Tuesday 4 August 2020

The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) - Ann Cleeves

The Long Call is the No.1 bestselling first novel in the Two Rivers series from Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father's funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he's back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew's new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

What did I think?

Ann Cleeves is a local author and I have wanted to read one of her books for quite some time but with so many books and such long-established series, I really didn't know where to start.  Seeing that her new book, The Long Call, was the first in a new series set in North Devon, I grabbed the opportunity to break my Ann Cleeves duck...or should that be gull?  The 'long call' is the well-known call of the herring gull, which is a familiar sound in coastal areas especially in my (and Ann's) local Tyneside.

Firstly, I have to say that there's a map in the front of the book and I absolutely love maps in books.  It really brings the story to life, although Ann Cleeves does such a good job of this herself that I didn't refer to the map whilst I was reading.

Detective Matthew Venn is a man after my own heart: only speaking up when he has something worthwhile to say.  I loved his colleagues, Jen and Ross, but for very different reasons: Jen is a bit of a pressure cooker likely to explode at any moment, more than likely at Ross who is so annoying.  I always felt like Ross wanted to build up his audience in readiness for a big reveal and a ta-da!  Such very different characters work so very well together though.

Matthew's back story is fascinating and provides the backdrop for a compelling murder mystery.  Matthew was brought up in the Barum Brethren community but his homosexuality resulted in him being ostracised and estranged from his parents.  When a body is found on the beach with links to The Woodyard, a local day centre run by Matthew's husband, Matthew has a slight conflict of interest.  He has an even bigger conflict when a vulnerable young woman from his old community disappears from The Woodyard and he has to return to the community to investigate but Matthew is the best person to see behind the mask of the Brethren leader.

Much like the tide, The Long Call starts out quite slow paced then all of a sudden I was immersed.  There are quite a lot of characters thrown at you at the beginning but I managed to keep track of them all without having to write them down.  After a bit of scene setting, as you would expect in a new series, the story really got going and I was in its vice like grip until the very end.  It's my first Ann Cleeves book so I can't compare it to any of her others; suffice to say that it has made me more eager to read some of her other books, especially the Vera series which is set in the North East.

Really enjoyable and a fantastic start to a new series, The Long Call is a mystery that kept me riveted.  The writing is as polished as I would expect from such an accomplished author and the story kept me interested and thoroughly entertained.

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