15 Sep The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves
Death comes to Devon once more
It’s always a pleasure to review an Ann Cleeves’ book. I’ve long been a fan of her Shetland series starring Jimmy Perez, now sadly over, and I love Vera Stanhope in all her untidy north-east glory.
Matthew Venn, her brooding Devon detective is now on his third outing, and growing on me more with every book he appears in. A man scarred by an overly-religious upbringing, he’s sombre and serious and can’t quite believe he deserves his happy marriage to outgoing, charming Jonathan.
But he has no doubts about his qualifications as a detective, and nor does the reader as he painstakingly picks his way through his latest case, taking no shortcuts, involving his team at every turn, and using his investigational skills, life experience and empathy to solve what proves to be a very tricky case.
From the very outset we’re promised a dark and dramatic story, presaged by the storm that see the lifeboat crew of Greystone village called out to a dinghy in difficulty. On board they find the body of Jem Roscoe, sailor, adventurer and local legend, who has recently returned to the area on mysterious business.
Called to the murder scene, Venn and his team, Jen Rafferty and Ross May, find themselves stormbound in the village, and start to investigate the ties the locals might have with Roscoe. Once the roads are clear, they extend the investigation, digging into Roscoe’s past for some clues to his fate – just how close is the murderer to home?
Is someone covering up for murder?
As always, this is an elegantly written, superbly plotted story from Ann Cleeves. Her books are always about so much more than solving a murder. We’re taken straight into the heart of a community where ties are close, where gossip and rumour abounds, and where neighbours will do anything for each other. But will they go so far as to cover up for murder?
There are plenty suspects and witnesses, each springing to life as a fully-formed character, no matter how small or large a part they have to play in the story. From lifeboat helm Mary Ford to truck driver Billy Brennan to pompous magistrate Barty Lawson, they’re all fascinating people who help put the flesh and bones on the community in which the action takes place.
There’s an extra dimension to the story in the atmosphere of the place itself, with the North Devon coast, and in particular Scully Bay, where Roscoe’s body is found. There is a hint of the supernatural, an air of menace, always lurking, and preparing the reader for the next nasty surprise.
Matthew Venn is growing as a character
In some ways the brooding atmosphere of Greystone, with its strong ties to the Barum Brethren, matches the broodiness of Matthew Venn, who escaped the sect physically but struggles to shake off its, for him, malign influence. As he reflects on his younger years, his character grows ever more understandable. He really is coming into his own now – as a reader I feel I’m getting to know him better in every book.
That’s not to say this book can’t be read stand-alone – it definitely can. And I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t help make you a life-long Ann Cleeves fan.
The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves is published by Pan Macmillan in hardback and ebook
About the Author
Ann Cleeves is the author of over thirty critically acclaimed novels and is translated into as many languages. She is the creator of popular detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez who can be found on television in ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. The TV series and the books they are based on have become international sensations, capturing the minds of millions worldwide. Sunday Times number 1 bestseller, THE LONG CALL, was the first in Ann’s Two Rivers series set in Devon, and is now in production for an ITV drama.
Ann moved to North Devon when she was 11 years old. Before then the family lived in a tiny village, and as the headmaster’s daughter she always felt like the outsider at school. But in Barnstaple, Ann found a real home. She made life-long friends and fell in love with the beautiful North Devon coast, which still has a very special place in her heart. She worked as a probation officer, librarian, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she embarked on her career as an author.
Ann’s been awarded the highest accolade in crime writing, the 2017 CWA Diamond Dagger, and is a member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. A passionate champion for libraries, she was a national libraries Day Ambassador in 2016. Her new ‘Reading Coaches’ project, providing support for health and wellbeing in communities, launches in the North East this summer. Ann lives in North Tyneside near where the Vera books are set.
Follow her on X (Twitter )@AnnCleeves
Find her on Facebook @AnnCleeves
Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on this blogtour and to the publishers Macmillan for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Catch up with the rest of the blogtour at the links on the poster
More reviews of Ann Cleeves books