The second in the North Devon based DI Matthew Venn series, Two Rivers, this is crime writing at its most immersive. As Matthew and his crew work to unpack a series of horrific deaths, the author continues to build on the backdrop of recurring characters – beginning with Venn himself, perhaps the most complex of this author’s lead detectives, a former teenage evangelical dropout, disgraced years ago in the eyes of his family and community, now back home again to settle, accompanied by his artistic and easygoing husband Jonathan. Matthew is a formidable, sharp and conscientious boss to his team, straight-laced and thoughtful, as he leads them through the procedural steps of a bewildering case involving a struggling artists’ commune, a rich and socially reclusive philanthropist, a suicide club, and the tragic fallout from an overburdened NHS trust.
Also back, and filling out the core team, are single mom DS Jenn Rafferty, and the slightly less cocky now DC Ross May, along with a smattering of interesting characters, suspects and plot twists that will keep the mystery-loving reader engrossed and puzzling.
With a setting so evocative you would swear you’d visited the North Devon coast first-hand, this is a terrific read from an always terrific writer, with a twist ending I did not guess. It comes as no surprise that this series is rapidly becoming as addictive as both Vera, and (my favorite) Jimmy Perez.