Book Title and Author: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
Series: Two Rivers #1
Publication Date and Publisher: September 3, 2019 by Minotaur Books
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Police Procedural
Pages: 384 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: August 30, 2019 (paper copy from the publisher)
For the first time in 20 years, Ann Cleeves—international bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—embarks on a gripping new series.
In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.
Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.
An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers.
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves is the first book in her new series, the Two Rivers and if you like an engaging, suspenseful, complex murder mystery that’s a classic police procedural then The Long Call is the perfect slow-burning read.
The main character, Matthew Venn is the DI in Barnstaple and has ties to the Barum Brethren, a small religious sect in the community that threw him out when was younger and expressed his disbelief in religion. That also meant losing all ties with his family. The story starts as he’s watching his father’s funeral from a distance then gets a call that a body’s been found on the beach. Little does Matthew know but this murder investigation will reinvolve him with the community he thought he’d left behind decades ago.
The body is identified as a recovering alcoholic who volunteered as a chef at the Woodyard Centre, a place that provides counseling services, classes, arts, charity services, as well as day programs for people with developmental delays. The center is managed by Matthew’s husband Jonathan and as more characters related to the case are also connected to the Woodyard Centre, it makes the case feel much too personal to Matthew because of his connection to Jonathan, and he feels maybe he should recuse himself even as he feels the search for the killer and the other ongoing events are on a collision course without time to spare. Although this was a slow burn, it speeds into high gear towards the end with an enthralling ending that left me wanting more.
The story is complex as I said, with a complex and very appealing cast of characters, both of which Cleeves takes her time to develop. The story is just as much about getting to know the characters as it is discovering the incredible setting in North Devon where Cleeves’ descriptions provide an atmosphere that was menacing at times, setting the tone of the multilayered threads of the plot. Matthew is smart, conservative, and honest. DS Jen Rafferty is a great character―I can’t wait to see more of her in the future! She’s a single mom who escaped an abusive husband; she’s insightful and smart.
It’s no wonder that Cleeve’s series have been developed so successfully into TV series because she writes character-driven stories that are quite distinctive, and the multiple threads come together brilliantly in the end. I was thrilled to hear that it has already been optioned for a TV series! I already can’t wait to read book two in the series and see the direction it takes.
**Thank you Minotaur Books for the ARC. All opinions are my own.**