Review :: The Long Call :: Ann Cleeves

I have to confess that I haven’t read very many crime fiction books, and when I have they have mostly been standalone-ish, rather than series. I do, however, enjoy the occasional British mystery/crime tv show so I was happy to have the opportunity to read and review Ann Cleeves’ brand new novel, The Long Call. This is the first book in a new series by Cleeves, the author of Shetland and Vera.  In this first instalment of the Two Rivers series we meet Detective Matthew Venn – here’s the blurb from the Macmillan website:
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.

I found this was a pretty slow burn – most of the action happens in the last 50 pages or so, but this is kind of what I had expected (And I assume is typical of these sorts of books?). Much of the book is about introducing us to the characters – Matthew and his husband, and two of Matthew’s colleagues in particular. Of course we also meet a lot of locals as the investigate unfolds. While we spend a lot of time with the police officers as they interrogate the people close to the mystery I never felt like this was too police process-y, and I thought the story came together quite naturally rather than in information dumps.

One of my favourite things about this book was how well Cleeves wrote the setting – I found it really comfortable to read, and I could imagine being right there on the shore with Matthew during his investigations. I’m not sure whether it was the fact that I know Shetland and Vera from the tv, but I just found this really easy to picture as a tv adaptation, and was unsurprised to hear that there have been talks about adapting it already I feel like the way Cleeves writes characters and settings, as well as the pacing through the novel, really lends the story well to the screen.

As I’ve mentioned, the characters were really nicely written. I feel like the balance of letting us get to know the main characters, but also showing that there is more for us to discover about them was perfectly done. I am definitely keen to find out more about the main characters, and will be keeping an eye out for the next book in the series.

xo Bron

The Long Call  by Ann Cleeves
Out now from Pan Macmillan Australia
On Goodreads
Find Ann Cleeves online here

Source: Free copy provided by Pan Macmillan Australia
Format: Paperback, 384 pages
RRP: $29.99
Category: Mystery, fiction, crime
Themes: Family, mental health, disability, abuse, religion


  • Diva Booknerd

    I haven't heard of the TV series before but this sounds a little more like a cosy mystery than a thriller, especially with the slower paced storyline. I've been really interested in crime type books of late and hoping to read a few before the year is out. Great review Bron, really enjoyed it.

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