Murder as the temperatures rise

Review: Vivien Horler

The Heron’s Cry, by Ann Cleeves (Macmillan)

I am a fan of Ann Cleeves’s detective thrillers, and have been ever since I came across the Shetland series – the books. Then there was the TV series, which I loved – I have a bit of a thing for remote islands – and eventually there was the Vera TV series, a great favourite.

So I was delighted to come across The Heron’s Cry, second in a new series set in North Devon and featuring Detective Matthew Venn. I haven’t read the first one, The Long Call, but it’s received high praise and I have downloaded it on my Kindle.

It’s a hot summer, and tourists are pouring into the pretty seaside towns in the area. Pubs, restaurants and roads are full. But an old working farm up on the hill with views over the fields down to the sea is an oasis of peace. It is where glassblower Eve Yeo  lives and works. Sharing the space is her landlord, and Wes, a musician and creator of quirky pieces of furniture from driftwood.

One hot morning Eve goes into her workshop to find her father, medical doctor Nigel Yeo, dead in a pool of blood. He has been stabbed with a shard of glass.

Venn and his colleagues are puzzled. Yeo is a public servant, working in a local hospital, thoughtful and popular. Why would anyone want to murder him? The investigation throws up concern about one of Yeo’s colleagues, a bigwig in the local hospital trust, who turns out to have moved to Devon from London after the suicide of a young patient who fell through the cracks of care.

It soon becomes apparent that a similar case has happened in North Devon, and Dr Yeo has been investigating it.

And then Eve is lured to a workshop in town where she finds another body, also murdered by a shard of glass from one of her vases. She is distraught and turns for comfort to Venn’s artistic husband Jonathan, who can’t understand Venn’s refusal to allow her to come and stay.

Investigations uncover a shadowy online group that may be persuading vulnerable young people to consider and even commit suicide.

Tension grows between Jonathan and Venn, and meanwhile, back on the farm, another body is discovered. But this one looks like a suicide. Or is it?

The sultry beauty of the lovely North Devon countryside in a hot summer is beautifully realised, and the story moves apace, coming to satisfactory and somewhat unexpected conclusion.

A great summer read.


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