Cover detail of The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves

The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves

And so we begin with our Autumn reads. It feels fitting to start thinking all about cosy reads, as I saw the first golden leaves on the huge oak tree that we pass on our daily walk with Hattie today. I have bought my first Autumn candles, and the blanket is ready for curling up under especially now that we have had a reprieve from the recent heatwave.

The book that has probably sat in my waiting to be read pile the longest is The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves. This is the second novel in the Two Rivers series featuring Detective Matthew Venn and is set in lovely North Devon. The third book in the series is The Raging Storm which I believe has just been published in Hardback. I will wait for this in paperback. Got to keep those books looking even on the bookshelves!

Read all about my Autumn 2023 To Be Read Pile

This has been a lovely slow-burner of a series so far and feels different in style and atmosphere from the Vera books or the Shetland series. But is still very enjoyable all the same. The author does recommend reading the series in order. It provides a lot of background to Matthew's past and his relationship with his parents. Without further ado, let's get stuck in shall we?

The Plot

Called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists, Matthew finds an elaborately staged murder - Nigel Yeo, a local Doctor has been fatally stabbed. His daughter, Eve is a glass blower, and the murder weapon is a shard of one of her broken cases.
Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He's a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved though, to find that Eve is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.
Then another body is found, killed in a similar way, and Matthew finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community, in a case that is dangerously close to home.

My Thoughts

The fact that this has been on my bookshelf the longest of my books, does in no way reflect on the readability of this book. It is easy to get stuck on the reading and reviewing treadmill and in full honesty, read books quickly in order to push the next review out. I try hard to balance this, as I read for pleasure and it's my hobby. I also love to share good reads with you all. But I sometimes miss that opportunity to really savour a book, or put off reading something because I know it will take time. It's something I'm working on. Which is a long-winded way of saying this is a book to enjoy slowly.

And enjoy it you shall! The plot is interesting. A beloved Doctor, is found murdered in his daughter's glass-blowing studio at an artists collective, a piece of glass buried in his neck. On the night of the murder, Dr Yeo had been at a party with Venn's Deputy Jen and had asked her about undertaking an investigation if he is able to provide details. Detective Matthew Venn must first understand the community of artists, and the, at times, challenging work undertaken by Dr Yeo.

I don't think that Cleeves' Shetland series can ever be beaten for atmosphere, secrets known and not shared. But these novels all have an underlying feeling of something not quite right in the local area where tourists are enjoying the stunning landscape and a Mr Whippy. It's almost as if there is something rotten at the core of the community. And this does all add to the tension.

Matthew Venn is a wonderful character and detective. Calm, methodical, in control at all times and intelligent. Contrast this with Jen, whose personal life feels almost slightly out of control and it makes for a great team.

The book does touch on suicide and websites where suicides are discussed. This feels well-researched by the author and is disturbing to read. The cast are well-assembled - a rich philanthropist, a narcissistic artist who has never grown up, a disgraced former health chief and a family torn apart by grief. Put all this together and you have an atmospheric slow-burner of a novel. I loved it.

The more I read of Ann Cleeves' novels, the more I enjoy. Each character and plot is fully explored and fleshed out. No thread is left untouched and it all reaches a satisfying, if tense, solution. This is no exception and was an excellent read. I can't wait for the third to come out in paperback now!

I'll be back on Thursday, with a review of a very different kind of book. Have a good couple of days.