Happy New Vera!
Vera's back! Ann Cleeves' brilliant but unglamourous detective, DI Vera Stanhope, returned to the UK's Sunday evening television on January 12th, for a new series - the tenth - consisting of four feature length mysteries, set in the beautiful Northumberland countryside (and some dramatic not-so-beautiful locations too). Vera (played by the magnificent Brenda Blethyn) is accompanied by her established team: Kenny Doughty (Detective Sergeant Aiden Healy), Jon Morrison (DC Kenny Lockhart), Riley Jones (DC Mark Edwards), Ibinabo Jack (DC Jacqueline Williams) and Paul Kaye (Dr Malcolm Donahue).
Episode 3, Dirty, will be broadcast on Sunday 26th January: the previous installments, episode 1, Blood Will Tell, and episode 2, Parent Not Expected are available to view on the ITV Hub, where there are also plenty of past episodes to enjoy.
Ann's publisher, Pan MacMillan, celebrated the return of Vera to our screens with the announcement that Ann's next book, another mystery starring Vera Stanhope, will be published in September 2020, with the title The Darkest Evening.
Read all about Vera - in print and on TV - here.
In addition, The BBC has already announced two more series of the hit crime drama Shetland inspired by - but very different to - the Shetland mysteries by best-selling crime writer Ann Cleeves. Douglas Henshall reprises his role as DI Jimmy Perez alongside series regulars Alison O'Donnell and Steven Robertson. The series is made by Silverprint Pictures for BBC One. "Well, this is very lovely news," says Ann.
Shetland takes as its point of departure the characters and settings of Ann's award-winning novels, but over five series has developed its own stories. Series six and seven will film in 2020 and 2021 in locations in the Shetland Isles and around Scotland, and will again feature six hour-long episodes each. Both series will be written and created by David Kane, who scripted the first series of Shetland and has written on every series since.
Meanwhile, Ann has completed her second Shetland Quartet, the Four Elements following the original Four Seasons, with Wild Fire: an English family, drawn in by the beauty of the islands, move to the area, eager to give their autistic son a better life. But when a young nanny's body is found hanging in the barn of their home, rumours of her affair with the husband begin to spread like wild fire. DI Jimmy Perez, called in to investigate, knows that it will mean the return to the islands of his on-off lover and boss Willow Reeves...
The Long Call and a new Detective
Ann Cleeves' latest book is a fresh departure, the first in her new Two Rivers series, featuring a new detective. The Long Call is set in North Devon, where Ann grew up, and introduces the reserved and complex Detective Inspector Matthew Venn, estranged from the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, and from his own family, but drawn back by murder into the community he thought he had left behind.
The Library Journal chose The Long Call as one of their crime books of the year; it has been nominated for an Agatha Award in the Best Contemporary Novel category.
"I ... was riveted."
"Ann Cleeves is one of my favorite mystery writers."
It was published in Australia on 27th August, in the US on Tuesday 3rd September and in the UK on Thursday 5th September 2019: you'll find ordering information - and more - here.
On the eve of publication, there was more good news for Ann (and her many fans): even before The Long Call reached the shops, Silverprint Pictures announced that it has optioned the screen rights. The Long Call makes Ann's third collaboration with Silverprint Pictures, the partnership that has produced Shetland (BBC) and Vera (ITV), two of television's most popular dramas. Ann says "I'm delighted that the team at Silverprint has optioned The Long Call. The adaptations of Vera and Shetland have captured the essence of my books, while making TV dramas that are hugely successful in their own right."
For a flavour of the new book, UK readers will find the first chapter at the back of Wild Fire, out in paperback now. Or, wherever you are, you can now read that chapter on the website of publisher, Pan MacMillan.
Another island for Ann
Award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, author of the Shetland and Vera novels, added another island to her portfolio on Sunday 17th February, when she was the castaway on BBC Radio 4's iconic Desert Island Discs. The programme remains available for you to listen online, or download.
Ann Cleeves: "the worthiest of winners"
On 26 October 2017, Ann Cleeves was presented with the Diamond Dagger of the Crime Writers' Association, the highest honour in British crime writing, at the CWA's Dagger Awards ceremony in London.
Presenting Ann with her award, Martin Edwards, Chair of the CWA, said: "It's a lifetime achievement award, and above all it recognises excellence in writing. But it also recognises a significant contribution to the crime writing world. And nobody can deny that Ann Cleeves' contribution has been magnificent."
He went on to say that "You all know about the wonderful books, and you all know about the fantastically successful TV series. So, given that the recurring theme of this evening is friendship, I just want to say a few words about Ann the person," and praised Ann for her kindness and generosity to others, and as a passionate advocate of the library service.
In 2006 Ann was the first winner of the Duncan Lawrie Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of the year, for Raven Black, the first volume of her Shetland series. In addition, she has been short listed for CWA Dagger Awards, once for the short story dagger, and twice for the Dagger in the Library award which is awarded not for an individual book but for an author's entire body of work.
Ann says: "It's a huge honour to be recognized by my peers, the crime-writers whose books, friendship and support I've enjoyed for more than thirty years. I am privileged to have had such a happy career and I will always be grateful for the support of booksellers and forever indebted to the passion and expertise of librarians, without whom I wouldn't still be writing today."
Ann Cleeves says "Good short stories have a force and a clarity which it's almost impossible to achieve in a novel. That's why I enjoy reading them. I know that each word has been chosen with care.
"I don't send post cards when I travel; I write stories instead. The three pieces in the CWA anthologies bring back vivid memories of Tanzania, Finland and Alaska. Raven Black was originally conceived as another of those holiday snap stories."
In The Starlings and Other Stories, Ann has edited a collection of twelve short stories which are literally, if not snapshots, at least inspired by photographs. She has invited each of her fellow members of Murder Squad to bring in an accomplice, and write a short story inspired by the dramatic photography of Pembrokeshire-based author David Wilson. Ann's own contribution is the title story, The Starlings, featuring DI Vera Stanhope.
Read more about The Starlings and other short stories by Ann Cleeves.
Two standalone novels are back in the bookshops in new paperback editions: The Sleeping and the Dead is a vivid psychological suspense novel the discovery of a body in the lake forces prison officer Hannah Morton to confront her past self; in Burial of Ghosts a holiday romance changes Lizzie's life forever.
Pan MacMillan's Bello imprint hunts down lost classics, and uses modern digital technology to make them available to readers as eBooks or print-on-demand paperbacks: now they are reissuing a selection of these as Pan Heritage Classic paperbacks. A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy is one of Ann Cleeves' 'Inspector Ramsay' series, featuring a police officer who is like Ann's (and TV's) Vera Stanhope in being based in England's northernmost county, Northumberland - though unlike her in many other ways. Looking even further back, to the work of a very young writer, you can also now read the George & Molly books, the adventures of amateur sleuth George Palmer-Jones, an elderly birdwatcher - and his wife, Molly. (Or you might want to read what Ann would like to say to that younger self).
"I do love Vera!"
In true Agatha Christie style, Cleeves once again pulls the wool over our eyes with cunning and conviction
A most satisfying mystery set in an isolated and intriguing location