The Long Call (Two Rivers) by Ann Cleeves

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The Long Call (Two Rivers) by Ann Cleeves

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The first book in a new serives from the writer of the Vera Stanhope series and the Shetland novels. We have a gay detective and a spotlight on some current issues: it's a promising start. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384/10h23m Date: September 2019
Publisher: Macmillan
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1509889563

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When we first meet DI Matthew Venn he's at his father's funeral, although 'at' rather overstates the proximity. He sees everyone - his mother and the preacher included from a distance - but he doesn't go in. He wouldn't be welcome. Those attending are part of the Barum Brethren and the teenage Matthew was thrown out when he told the congregation how wrong they were in their beliefs. It coincided with him leaving university and joining the police force. The announcement of Matthew's marriage to Jonathan Church was in the local paper and whilst he doesn't know if his father saw it, he can't imagine that it will have gone down well.

There's no time for introspection, though, as the body of a man has been found on the beach at Crow Point, not too far from where Matthew and Jonathan live. He's got no identification on him, but a shopping list takes Matthew's team back to the Woodyard, a centre for the arts, a community hub and the home of the centre for people with learning difficulties. Jonathan runs the Woodyard and DS Jen Rafferty and DC Ross May are conscious that there might be a conflict of interest for Matthew Venn as their enquiries all seem to lead back to the Woodyard, particularly when a young woman with Down's Syndrome is abducted.

I was saddened when Ann Cleeves stopped writing the Shetland novels but I can understand how difficult it would have been following the death of her husband, renowned ornithologist, Tim Cleeves. Instead, she's put her detective in North Devon, the area where she grew up, and it comes alive in her hands. Some of the tourist destinations are there - such as Ilfracombe - but this is the North Devon where people live and work.

The characters are good too. I liked the combination of Matthew Venn, who prefers rules and order, who - if we're completely honest - lacks that bit of patience to be a really good detective, and Jonathan Church, who has the patience to sit and talk to a badly frightened young woman with Down's Syndrome. He's not worried about rules, or order, but he will adapt to suit Matthew. The police team comes off the page well, too. DS Jen Rafferty is newly escaped from an abusive relationship. Children Ben and Ella largely fend for themselves with only the slightest of oversight from Rafferty, who's become something of a party animal since she left her husband in Liverpool. DC Ross May could become a problem. He's DCI Joe Church's golden boy - and mole in the Venn team. He's devoted to his wife, Melanie, who Jen Rafferty describes as the perfect fashion accessory.

The plot is good too and I didn't work out whodunnit despite the fact that all the clues were there. Cleves manages to deliver a more-than-readable first-book-in-the-series whilst preparing the ground for what I hope are many books to follow. I'd like to thank the publisher for letting Bookbag have a review copy.

If you've read the Vera Stanhope series and the Shetland novels we can recommend anything by Paula Daly who brings the Lake District to life as few others do. Steve Burrows does something similar for North Norfolk in the early books of the Birder Murder series.

Ann Cleeves Two Rivers Series in Chronological Order

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