Long Call

The Long Call
Ann Cleeves
Reviewed by Phil

Fans of Ann Cleeves’ earlier series, Shetland and Vera, are in for a treat with the first book in her new Two Rivers series. Set in North Devon, where Cleeves grew up, The Long Call introduces Detective Inspector Matthew Venn and his colleagues, Detective Sergeant Jen Rafferty and Detective Constable Ross May. There are tensions and rivalry between the team members, and May’s connections with the higher ups, who see him as the “golden boy”, add further strain.

A body is discovered at Crow Point, an isolated beach between the mouths of the Rivers Taw and Torridge. There’s no ID, just a shopping list scrawled on the back of a crumpled envelope. The trail leads to a house in Ilfracombe, shared by two women, Caroline and Gaby, and the mysterious Simon Walden. Who is he? Where did he come from? And why was he killed?

Then one of the students at the Woodyard Centre, a day center for people with learning disabilities, is kidnapped. She is found two days later, abandoned in an overgrown garden. A second student goes missing. Time is running out - she is diabetic, and without her medicine. As the pressure builds, the search becomes frantic., and the tensions between the characters mount.

The Long Call is a thoughtful police procedural. Although not a thriller, in the beat-‘em-up, shoot-‘em-up style, it is a real page turner and very difficult to put down. There is no cheating or deliberate misdirection here. The reader is presented with all the evidence as the team discovers it. Cleeves’ local knowledge brings the settings to life – it’s as if you are right there in the North Devon landscape, side-by-side with Venn and Rafferty as they unravel the mystery and identify Walden’s murderer. This is a truly satisfying crime novel, and augers well for the new series.

Anne Cleeves was awarded the inaugural Duncan Lawrie Dagger prize for her 2006 mystery, Raven Black, the first book in her successful Shetland series. Both the Shetland series and the Vera series have been made into popular television shows. Cleeves lives in Whitley Bay, a coastal town in the north east of England.

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