THE RISING TIDE
Vera Stanhope #10
September 6, 2022
Ann Cleeves' newest Vera Stanhope mystery reaches back into the past for the motive behind a series of murders. Fifty years ago, a group of students at Kimmerston Grammar, brought together by their teacher, had a sort of retreat on Holy Island (Lindisfarne) and formed strong bonds that have lasted a lifetime. Five have gathered on the island every five years for a reunion. Those meeting this October include Rick Kelsall, a celebrity journalist whose career has come to a screeching halt by accusations of sexual harassment from an intern. There is also Annie Laidler, co-owner of a successful bakery/deli in Kimmerston; Philip Robson, an Anglican priest; Ken Hampton, a successful head-teacher now suffering from Alzheimer's, and his wife, Louise. Holy Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway, inundated by the rising tide once a day. On the first reunion, Isobel Hall left the island in a temper when the tide rose and was swept away in her small car. She is much remembered by the remaining group.
Vera has had no cases for a while that challenged her, so when news of a possible suicide on Holy Island reaches her, she secretly hopes for a murder. Rick Kelsall is dead, found hanging in his room by Annie. Rick had been surprisingly upbeat with his career in shambles, talking about new projects, including a novel. It does look like a suicide, but the postmortem shows that Rick was smothered with a pillow and strung up. This investigation, with the wives, ex-wives, friends, and the now-retired teacher who brought them together, will prove to be the most dangerous and tragic of her career. All her team is involved, particularly Holly and Joe Ashworth. Even the upstanding police commissioner, Katherine Willmore, has a connection to the group, making the case more political than usual.
The Holy Island, with its dangerous tides, mists, and the sound of foghorns, is almost a character on its own. Who, among this group of seemingly respectable seniors, is a dangerous killer, willing to do anything to keep the secrets of the past? The Rising Tide is a masterpiece of plotting, keeping me guessing until the end. The end itself is shockingly unexpected and may portend some changes for the irascible Vera. Ann Cleeves continues to provide mysteries that are not only puzzles but investigations into the human heart.
Thanks to Netgalley.com and Minotaur for an advance digital copy, The opinions are my own.
RATING 4 Stars