The Glass Room (D I Vera Stanhope) by Ann Cleeves
|The Glass Room (D I Vera Stanhope) by Ann Cleeves|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The fifth book in the DI Vera Stanhope series is superb: twisty, very readable and I would never have guessed the name of the killer. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384/10h54m||Date: February 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Inspector Vera Stanhope isn't big on friends but the hippy neighbours are good to her in terms of home-brew beer and conversation and when one of them goes missing she feels obliged to investigate. She knows that she'd be furious if one of the team was playing at private investigator and it leaves her in the embarrassing position of being first on the scene after a murder has been discovered. One of the tutors has been brutally murdered at The Writers' House and the other residents have made an easy assumption about who wielded the knife, but Vera must act professionally even though she knows that's she's hardly impartial.
To my shame I only started reading Ann Cleeves quite by accident. She edited The Starlings and Other Stories and in the titular story, which she wrote, the skill shone through. I was tempted to look further and unusually for a book reviewer, it was going to be at my own expense: The Glass Room is now the third audiobook (more on that later) to which I've listened. I've been stunned by the plot and the characterisation in each one. Vera Stanhope, middle-aged, large and ungainly is the sort of woman who tends to be disregarded and certainly under estimated, but people who do so, do it at their own peril. Given her size it would be easy for Ann Cleeves to make her into a caricature but instead Stanhope inspires respect and empathy. It's very cleverly done. There's an excellent contrast with Sergeant Joe Ashworth, Stanhope's protege, but this time he might be stepping out of line and he's certainly surprising Vera.
The Glass House gives a great insight into the world of publishing; the fragile egos which are easily battered by those which are overblown, the struggle not even to get published, but just to get an agent and the emotional ups and downs of the process. The plot is excellent - plenty of twists. I think I had everyone chalked in as the murderer but the person who actually did the dirty deed.
When you listen to an audio download you also get someone else's interpretation of the book and the choice of narrator is important. I thoroughly enjoyed Anne Dover's interpretation in Hidden Depths but was less convinced by Janine Birkett in Harbour Street. I was conscious that I was now going to hear a third narrator and I'll confess to being nervous, but I needn't have worried. Charlie Hardwick is superb. She brought Vera to life but also managed a full range of male and female voices with aplomb along with all the requisite regional accents - even, I noticed, the subtle difference between the Northumberland and a Geordie accent. She made listening to the recording a real pleasure.
Each of the mysteries works perfectly well as a standalone - I've not yet detected any spoilers. I've read the books out of order and not found any disadvantage, but there's a list below if you do prefer the books in chronological order. For more audio crime we would suggest The Soul of Discretion (Simon Serrailler) by Susan Hill. The characterisation is excellent but the plot is not as complex as those written by Ann Cleeves.
You could get a free audio download of The Glass Room (D I Vera Stanhope) by Ann Cleeves with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Glass Room (D I Vera Stanhope) by Ann Cleeves at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Glass Room (D I Vera Stanhope) by Ann Cleeves at Amazon.com.
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