Sunday, September 1, 2019

A Brand-New Series From a Gold Dagger Winner

Two Rivers #1
Ann Cleeves
St. Martin's Minotaur
September 3, 2019

The Long Call begins the first new series by the author of Vera and Shetland in twenty years. Set in North Devon, it introduces us to DI Matthew Venn, a very different sort of detective to the usual run. Matthew grew up in a strict evangelical cult and was expelled as a young man when he lost his faith. He is also gay, something frowned upon by the Barum Brethren. When we first meet, he is standing outside the funeral of his father. The funeral was by invitation and Matthew was not invited. Upon leaving, he received a call to a nearby beach and a body with a large albatross tattooed on his neck stabbed to death. His search for the killer will lead him into a web of secrets and lies involving the very people he grew up with. The community center run by Matthew's husband, Jonathan, appears to be closely linked.

Ann Cleeves writes intensely atmospheric, character-driven mysteries and The Long Call does not disappoint. This murder investigation is Matthew's first as lead, and he has many doubts, mostly driven by his past. Added to his worries is the apparent involvement of his husband's center. He worries that it's a conflict of interest. The supporting characters are well-drawn and memorable, especially his female investigating partner, Jen Rafferty. She is Matthew's opposite but serves as a perfect foil for his introspection. The supportive and loving relationship between Matthew and Jonathan helps him keep his balance in a case that destroys his previous beliefs about the Brethren.

Some might find that The Long Call moves a bit slowly, and I would agree. However, I like character-driven mysteries, rather than a fast-moving plot. There is plenty of action in the last third of the novel! Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.

RATING- 4.5 Stars

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