Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves
|Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: I listened to an audio download of this brilliant book and it was a real treat: superb story and excellent narration. What more could you ask for?|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384/10h54m||Date: February 2007|
|External links: Author's website|
Life hadn't been easy for Julie Armstrong, left on her own with two children. Her son Luke 'had his difficulties' too, probably best summarised as a learning disorder, and he absorbed a lot of Julie's time. She felt guilty that she neglected her daughter Laura who was bright, but rather withdrawn: being Luke's sister had never been easy and keeping herself to herself was the best way of dealing with the jibes about what he'd done now. There weren't many opportunities for Julie to get out without the kids and the chance of a night out with her girlfriends had been too good to pass up, but when she came home, perhaps a little drunk and high from meeting up with a man she felt attracted to, she found Luke dead in a flower-strewn bath full of water. He'd been strangled.
Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope was handling the case and it was puzzling. Who would want Luke Armstrong dead? Even his headmaster couldn't understand it: struggling to explain himself he finally said that Luke was inoffensive. Why would anyone want to go to all that trouble to stage the finding of the body? Some miles away and some days later a young boy was playing by a rock pool. His parents and three of his father's friends were shocked when they heard him screaming. James Calvert had discovered the body of a young woman in a flower-strewn rock pool. Worse still she was a student doing teaching practice with his class.
I'm ashamed to say that my contact with the work of Ann Cleeves has been glancing. I'd been aware of some of her Shetland novels which Bookbag reviewers had loved and I've watched one or two television adaptations. Then I read a collection of short stories which Cleeves had edited and her contribution tempted me to look further. An audiobook to listen to whilst I did something mindless was the perfect answer. There was only one problem: I kept stopping the 'something mindless' because I wanted to concentrate on the story. The characterisation is superb: Vera Stanhope is a masterpiece. She's big, not particularly attractive and there's a sadness that she's missed out on family life and having children (although a surly teenager can cause her to reevaluate how she feels). Every character comes off the page equally well.
The plot is brilliant. I read a lot of crime fiction and I usually have at least some idea of whodunnit - even if I'm regularly wrong - but this time I really had no idea. Right up to the final denouement I still thought it could have been any one of about five people, but when Vera explains the reasoning to her sergeant, Joe Ashworth, it was all perfectly obvious and I couldn't understand why I hadn't spotted the clues.
The best of books can be ruined when turned into an audiobook by a poor narration and I'll confess that I havered about this one. Stanhope is Northumbrian to the core and unless the accent is done well it can sound ridiculous, but the narrator, Anne Dover, does a superb job. The brogue sounds completely natural and I had no problems is distinguishing every other cast member. The download lasted for nearly eleven hours and I enjoyed every minute.
This is the point where I usually thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book - but this time I bought the download!
For more crime as an audio download we can recommend The Soul of Discretion by Susan Hill - the final Simon Serrailler novel.
You could get a free audio download of Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves at Amazon.com.
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