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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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review 2019-11-25 00:20
White Nights - Ann Cleeves
White Nights - Ann Cleeves

May 2019
This may well deserve a higher rating, but 7 months after I finished it without making even the slightest effort at a review, I have no idea. I recognize the start of the story from the blurb. And that's pretty much it. The identity of the first victim eludes me, as does the reason for any of it. All I seem to recall is that there was extensive back story. Well, also it got me interested in the the Hebrides and other islands, enough to look at houses for sale and jobs listings, not that I could consider moving without a lottery win because there is no way in hell that I am packing up and lugging all these books anywhere. I would love to see the white nights though.

Sad, innit, how little I remember? Still, I'd like to read more by Cleeves.

Library copy

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review 2019-11-22 21:34
DI Matthew Venn - book 1
The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) - Ann Cleeves

This is the first book of the newest series by Ann Cleeves, set in North Devon, and a new main character, DI Matthew Venn.


I'm going to start by talking about the issues I had with this book, although I did enjoy it a lot, because I want to talk about the weakness before I get to the strengths. The main weakness, for me, was the actual mystery/plot. I wasn't really convinced by the motivations behind the murder and the events that followed from the murder. I can't say a lot without spoiling, but I felt like that was a significant problem with the plot.


But, I want to focus for a moment on the things that I liked about the book, which are also things that I generally like about Cleeves as a writer. She has three current series: Vera Stanhope, set in Northumberland, Jimmy Perez, set in the Shetland Isles, and now this one, set in North Devon. In each of these series, Cleeves uses the bleakness and isolation of the landscapes to tremendous effect for setting and tone of the books. 


I also think that she writes really good characters - both her main characters and many of the side characters. Matthew Venn is a likeable protagonist who doesn't necessarily fit the police officer mold - he grew up in a very insular religious sect (very nearly a cult), and is publicly out as a married gay man. These things are established organically. Matthew's relationship with his husband, Jonathan, is convincing. His fraught relationship with his mother is also well-drawn, and at the start of the book his father has just died, and his complicated feelings about the death of a man to whom he hasn't spoken in decades are convincing.


The side characters are also well done, especially Lucy, a young woman with Down's Syndrome, and her father Maurice. Lucy and Maurice become involved in the murder as witnesses, and Cleeves handles their relationship and Lucy's complicated character really well. She is respectful of Lucy and shows how a young woman like Lucy's can be smart and resourceful as well as vulnerable.


So, I did enjoy the book and plan to read more of the Matthew Venn books as they are published.

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review 2019-11-18 04:35
Jimmy Perez #5
Dead Water - Ann Cleeves

I am cautiously optimistic about continuing the series. 

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