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text 2020-07-16 14:01
The Darkest Evening - Ann Cleeves

Grabbing the latest book in this series is a no-brainer for a couple of reasons. First, I know I’m in for a well written, twisty murder mystery. Second, I get to spend time with the wonderful Brenda Blethyn. Ever since I saw her portrayal of Vera Stanhope, she’s become the voice in my head as I read these books. And that’s no bad thing.


The story begins when Vera ends up with a baby. But not the usual way. In the middle of a blizzard, she comes across an abandoned car with a tiny person inside. Their only hope is to make it to the nearest house which just happens to be the ancestral home of her father’s estranged family. Awkward.


And so Vera is reunited with snooty matriarch Harriet, her daughter Juliet & son-in-law Mark. She hasn’t seen this side of the family since childhood & it sets up an interesting dynamic. But any chit-chat will have to wait as Vera calls in reinforcements to deal with the baby, the car…..wait, where is the mom? By the time help arrives, there’s another more pressing question: who is the dead woman in the back yard?


And we’re off. Joe, Holly & all the regulars are back as the team tries to identify a killer who is hiding in plain sight. Motive is key to solving the case & as Vera digs with her typical persistence, family secrets & hidden ties are revealed. Appearances can deceive & even the happiest families have fault lines, soft spots that must be protected to maintain a facade.


The plotting is excellent & there are several credible “killers” to choose from. But what elevates the story is the addition of Vera’s personal history & present day interaction with long lost relatives. As local connections are uncovered, she has to wonder if her family knows more than they’re telling. They remember her as the awkward, frumpy daughter of the family’s black sheep. She may still be all those things but now she’s also an intuitive cop with the power to sort through & air their dirty laundry.


Picking up one of these books is like bumping into old friends. I love Vera & enjoy watching as criminals underestimate her at their own expense. Joe continues to be her long suffering righthand man while Holly’s character & relationship with the boss is further developed.


The pages fly by driven by a steady pace, clever dialogue & well rounded characters. By the end, the woman’s death is not the only mystery solved as Vera gains new insight into her father that may help put some of her personal demons to rest.




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text 2020-04-04 16:58
Reading progress update: I've read 68%.
Wild Fire - Ann Cleeves

Weekend plans:


Finish Wild Fire. 


Read No Wind of Blame


Start Debt of Honor


Also, make a dozen more masks to send to my sister-in-law and her husband who are both immunocompromised, buy a birthday cake for my son, who turns 20 tomorrow (what a bummer time for a birthday) and get take out Thai food which is his requested birthday dinner.

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text 2020-04-03 17:06
#FridayReads 4.3.2020
Wild Fire - Ann Cleeves
No Wind of Blame - Georgette Heyer
Few Eggs and No Oranges: The Diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-45 - Vere Hodgson,Jenny Hartley
Debt of Honor - Tom Clancy
The Late Show - Michael Connelly

My reads today & over the weekend:


Wild Fire is the last book in the Shetland series, which I've decided to finish so I can take it off my active series list. I put an ehold on it and it came through right away!


No Wind of Blame is the pandemic buddy read of the week - can't wait! We read tomorrow. Or when convenient.


A Few Eggs and No Oranges is a long diary of wartime London. I've read about 30 pages, and so far I really like it. It's best in small bites.


Debt of Honor just came through from the library. I have it for 14 days, but will probably finish it next week.


The Late Show is next up in my obsessive Bosch read. 


And that will probably take care of things until next Friday!

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review 2020-01-02 19:04
Hidden Depths
[(Hidden Depths)] [By (author) Ann Cleeves] published on (September, 2007) - Ann Cleeves

Vera is called into a case when a teen boy is found drowned in his bathtub. Vera and others wonders if it has anything to do with his best friend accidentally drowning months ago. When a young woman is found dead posed the same way, Vera starts to wonder if it ties into an amateur bird watching group. 


I really enjoyed "Hidden Depths". Cleeves did a fantastic job of having Vera on the scene quite quickly in this one. We also get a chance to see into her "head" more in this one too. She's very good at her job, and is reluctant to allow others on her squad to do a lot without her input. I thought that Cleeves did a great job of allowing us to see mode depth with Vera wondering about a potential life she could have had if not for her father. 


Cleeves offers up different points of view in this one with several characters, the divorced mother racked by grief (Julie Armstrong), and three separate men (Peter Calvert, Gary Wright, and Samuel Carr) who are part of the bird watching group, along with one of the men's wife (Felicity Calvert). We eventually see how things tie together in this one, and although it's a slow read, it's a satisfying one.


I do think Cleeves does a great job of showing how toxic personalities can shape a group or person (no spoilers) and loved the slightly unsatisfied ending in this one. I honestly wish the tv series had followed more of the book's plot since I thought it worked better.  

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review 2020-01-02 16:07
Only one book left in the series
Cold Earth: A Shetland Mystery (Shetland Island Mysteries) - Ann Cleeves

I had a very good New Year's Day and finished two books. I am at my limit as far as socializing goes and really need everyone who is not my immediate family to go away. And then I need my immediate family to leave me alone for several days so I can recharge my batteries in solitude.


This holiday season has really made me realize that I need alone time desperately. No one in my family aside from my son seems to have this same need, and at this point, between the road trip, the wedding, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, I feel like I haven't been alone since September. My in-laws, thank God, are leaving this morning after spending New Years with us, and I can't wait to have my house back.


This is the seventh book in the Shetland series. I didn't think that this was one of the stronger entries. I was blindsided by the solution, so I guess Cleeves was successful there, but I didn't feel like I was blindsided in a good way. More like the misdirection was all too heavy handed. 


It wasn't an "ah ha" reveal, it was more like a "wtf" reveal.


Anyway, I put book 8 on hold at my library and I'm going to finish out the series. I'll be sad to have finished and will miss my periodic visits to the Shetland Islands.

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