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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 2019-04-07 15:29
Flow was Up and Down and the Beginning Was Boring
Telling Tales - Ann Cleeves

Not too much to say about this one. It was fine. I was bored though for the first 1/3 until we get Vera interacting with characters. Any time Cleeves away from her I found myself bored. The ending was very good though and a surprise. I liked how it was wrapped up.


"Telling Tales" takes a very long time to get moving. We start off with a young housewife, Emma Bennett who sits around having fantasies about the local potter, Dan. Things change one day when her husband James comes home on the news that the woman (Jeanie Long) who went to jail for murdering her best friend (Abigail Mantel)10 years ago has committed suicide. And to make things even worse, it appears that Jeanie didn't do it. Enter Vera and Joe who have been asked to look into this case and figure out who the first investigation got things wrong. This leads to Vera turning over some rocks and bringing things that haven't been said or thought of in a very long time to light.


Emma is a drip. She lives in a fantasy world and has daydreams of having an affair, but stands by her husband even if she finds him less exciting. It seems at times that maybe Emma is suffering from post-partum. She also has a huge issue with her parents. We find out that Emma's father was a very successful architect, but one day suddenly quit his job, and moved his family to the village of Elvet where he focuses on being a probation officer as well as making religion more of a focus of their family life.


Emma's husband and brother are both harboring secrets, though Emma's brother Chris has an obsession with Abigail and can't seem to move on from her murder.

We also follow Jeanie's father who is a broken man after realizing that his daughter was innocent and he didn't see her or defend her. He and Vera end up making an unlikely friendship I thought with him doing what he could to help her out on the case, and Vera trying to not get too irritated with him.

We also follow up with the original investigator and another officer on the case and we find out how their lives changed too. 


I thought the writing and dialogue got much better when Vera was on the scene. We have people reacting to her and her questions. Cleeves also does a great job with Vera and how she systemically picks things apart. We get some reveals I wasn't expecting and thought they were greatly done.

The flow though was not good. The first part of the book drags beyond belief. It was hard to get into and then things picked up. I think jumping from person to person didn't help.

The setting of Elvet seems a lonely and desolate place. Emma's parent's home seems cold and empty which was a perfect metaphor for what was going on with a lot of people.

The ending was a surprise, and I did wonder about the fallout for certain characters. I wonder if Cleeves ever mentions characters again in future works. 

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review 2018-05-30 15:39
Dragged Too Much with Very Little Vera
The Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope #1) - Ann Cleeves

What a drag this book was! I have fallen in love with the tv series starring Brenda Blethyn and I was so excited to start a new mystery series. Now of course I am wondering if I should even bother with the second book in the series, "Telling Tales." As other reviews have noted, Vera doesn't even show up in this book til the 40 percent mark (Kindle version) and then we don't even get a Vera POV until I think it was around the 75 percent mark. Instead we focus on three women and go back and forth between two of the women (after one of them is murdered). I have to say the final reveal of who is behind the murders that popped up in this book and why were a bit hard to take. I didn't feel like any of the characters were very well developed besides the three women the book decides to focus the most on anyway. 


"The Crow Trap" follows three women: Rachel, Anne, and Grace. These three women are in Northumberland in order to do an environmental survey. There is a possibly quarry that may be built and there are sides for it and against it. When a local farmer's wife commits suicide, it seems to be the catalyst that causes everyone else to realize that maybe something else is going on here. When one of these three women is found murdered, DI Vera Stanhope appears on scene and decides to lay a trap to catch the murderer. 


Eh if I have to pick one woman that didn't drive me up the wall, it would be no one. Seriously. Rachel was aggravating, Anne and her personal life..yikes. And Grace's was the most interesting to me, but I honestly had a hard time with that character cause we pretty much skipped over why she was on the survey team until almost the end. I didn't get it myself based on what we found out about her and her real family since it didn't feel like something her father would really care about. It just came out of nowhere. 


Vera was a loudmouth who I had to question her intelligence at times. She didn't seem that bright until the book pivoted to her POV. And even then...just a bit uncouth. I don't know. She is not acting how the tv show Vera acts. There seems to be no subtlety at all.


There are other characters in this one, but I refuse to go back and look them up. I just didn't find them that intriguing. 


The writing was okay, this book was way too long. The flow as up and down. Going from Rachel, Anne, and Grace and showcasing the same timeline via different POVs made me want to pull my hair out. I started to become bored while reading this. Rachel deciding to investigate with Vera's blessing/derision wasn't much help either. You start to wonder what is going on and how is it all connected. 


The ending didn't make a lot of sense to me. I felt like it just came out of nowhere. I had to re-read that part a few times to even get the gist of what is happening. And you don't even get a good sense of closure. The book just abruptly ends.  

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review 2014-10-14 00:00
Silent Voices: A Vera Stanhope Mystery
Silent Voices: A Vera Stanhope Mystery - Ann Cleeves Inspector Vera Stanhope is played to perfection in the TV series by the wonderful Brenda Blethyn and thus I was interested in reading this book when offered on the kindle daily deal. Vera is not like other detectives who tend to have affairs and problem home lives. By her own admission she is large and shambolic with bare legs and blotchy skin and never wears makeup. There is a comical, even touching scene when Vera interiews the main suspect in the murder of social worker Jenny Lister, and there is a stirring of lust within her...."He smiled again and sat on the floor facing them. The movement was fluid, very graceful, and it came to Vera, unbidden, that he'd be very good at sex. The physical stuff. Was that part of his attraction? She felt a moment of panic, of the old regret that time was slipping past. Then something close to lust."

The story however is somewhat stilted and apart from this wonderful portrayal we are reduced to chapter upon chapter of police procedural as the team gathers together suspects in an attempt to find not only the murder of Jenny Lister but teenager Danny. DI Stanhope is helped in her investigation by Sergeant Joe Asquith a colleague she is jealous of with his settled home life and trendy "Ikea" furniture.

I believe this story would have been more attractive if greater attention had been paid to the unravelling of the main characters and their flaws together with a better use of the setting...the beautiful rugged Northumbrian coast.
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review 2014-09-16 21:12
Silent Voices (Vera Stanhope, #4) by Ann Cleeves
Silent Voices: A Vera Stanhope Mystery - Ann Cleeves

bookshelves: autumn-2014, film-only, published-2010, mystery-thriller, series

Read on September 16, 2014


Description: When DI Vera Stanhope finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once, it's a death from natural causes. But closer inspection reveals ligature marks around the victim's throat . . .

Doing what she does best, Vera pulls her team together and sets them interviewing staff and those connected to the victim, while she and colleague Sergeant Joe Ashworth work to find a motive. While Joe struggles to reconcile his home life with the demands of the job, Vera revels being back in charge of an investigation. Death has never made her feel so alive.

And when they discover that the victim had worked in social services – and was involved in a shocking case involving a young child – it seems the two are somehow connected.

But things are rarely as they seem . . .

Didn't BBC radio air some of these with Imelda Staunton? Anyway, these TV episodes are great even though I am not a fan of Cleeves on the page. She is only one of the writers on Vera. Three and a half heroic rescues.

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