The Long Call by Ann Cleeves showing a watercolour of a bird flying over the sea

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves


The weather today is grey - mizzly and damp. The Great British Bake Off has returned to our screens, promising its usual gently cakey goodness and I have also spotted my first Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL for those in the know). I've also got an urge to light our log burner, about 30 candles and purchase a thick open weave blanket. Folks, I'm calling it, Autumn is here.

My husband and I were talking about the types of books we read at different times of the year. At the time of writing, I have just published my Autumn wrap up and it was all summer, summer, summer. Think light, frothy reads with sunshine covers.

Read my August Wrap-Up

Now I'm all crime thriller, preferably set in dark weather. The Long Call is the first in a new series by Ann Cleeves and feature Detective Matthew Venn. Given that Ann's books usually contain a much-loved location, the action has moved to Devon. And it's interesting.

The Plot (from the Back)

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the chapel as his father's funeral takes place. The day Matthew left the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.
Now he's back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.
A body has been found on the beach, a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death. Finding the killer is Venn's only focus, and the investigation will take him back into the community he left behind and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

My Thoughts

As said in my preamble, The Long Call is the first book in the Two Rivers series and has just been commissioned for a TV series with the cast announced. The second in the series is The Heron's Cry which is also available. But I'd start with this first. Also a quick note about triggers - this novel does feature abuse and exploitation of vulnerable adults. It is sensitively handled.

The location of the novel is achingly bleak yet beautiful, set near the town of Barnstable, but mainly in the coastal locations around Crow Point. The writing is so well done. As I read, I genuinely felt I was following a police investigation. At times it was slow work, people being interviewed, financial records analysed, alibis and links to other suspects explored. This is not a wham bam crime-fighting hero, more a slow-burner with a satisfying conclusion.

Matthew Venn is also an enigma to me. Quiet, serious and calm, he seems almost happy not to take the spotlight, instead choosing to go about the investigation mildly. The only time we see his guard lowered is in his dealings with the Brethren and threat to Lucy, Rosa and Christine, 3 vulnerable adults. Then the mask drops and we witness a man truly passionate about his work.

As with the other Ann Cleeves novels, I had no earthly idea who the murderer was until the last possible moment which was great!

And so if you fancy curling up with an engaging crime police procedural, the weather is bleak and you are looking for something absorbing, then please do give this a go.