What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Here again, as we’ve seen before, Ann Cleeves, one of my all time favorite authors, writes like no other, in this, Book 9 of the wonderful Vera Stanhope series.
In this story we meet Lorna Falstone, a beautiful and troubled young mother with a one-year-old son, living alone in rural Northumberland, in a setting as gothically sinister as it is bleakly beautiful.
Joined by a cast of characters vaguely Agatha Christie-esque in their colorful representation of village life, there are suspects a-plenty when murder strikes, including but not limited to the “gentry” Stanhopes, – Vera’s estranged and glamorous widowed Aunt Harriet, along with her meek and middle-aged daughter Juliet, who is still beautiful, and unhappily married to the flamboyant and untrustworthy Mark Bolitho. Occupiers of the Stanhope family home, a money-pit of a mansion in need of new funding, Vera’s relatives are odd and unfriendly, (perhaps not that different, after all, in every way, from our eccentric hero).
As Vera and her team scramble to uncover what may be a serial killer hidden in the midst of the village, the author ratchets up the tension with creepy woodlands, bracing snowstorms, abandoned cottages and isolated fields, – a setting that proves to be as dangerous for our heroes as it is for those they are trying to protect.
A top-notch mystery, rife with suspense, enthralling characters, and a chance to meet again with the indomitable Vera, her trusty and sensible side-kick Joe, and the cool and collected Holly (who receives plenty of air-time in this particular installment).
I love this series, this author and not surprisingly, this book – a treat (unabashedly) to light up even the darkest evening.
A great big thank you to @NetGalley for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.