A hot summer on the Northumberland coast, and Julie Armstrong arrives home from a night out to find her son murdered. Luke has been strangled, laid out in a bath of water and covered with wild flowers.
This stylized murder scene has Inspector Vera Stanhope and her team intrigued. But then a second body - that of beautiful young teacher Lily Marsh - is discovered laid out in a rock pool, the water strewn with flowers. Now, Vera must work quickly to find this dramatist, this killer who is making art out of death.
Clues are slow to emerge from those who had known Luke and Lily, but Vera soon finds herself drawn towards the curious group of friends who discovered Lily's body. What unites these four men and one woman? Are they really the close-knit, trustworthy unit they claim to be? As local residents are forced to share their private lives and those of their loved ones, sinister secrets are slowly unearthed.
And all the while the killer remains in their midst, waiting for an opportunity to prepare another beautiful, watery grave ...
Hidden Depths is the third Vera Stanhope book, but it was the first episode of Vera, the television series, to be broadcast. Adam Sweeting, reviewing the show for On the Box said "I thoroughly enjoyed this detective romp, and look forward to watching next week's episode as the series continues. There some great acting and casting, all helped along the way by a well thought out story which kept me guessing throughout. Being a fan of the crime genre, I've become pretty good at spotting the bad guy from the off, though during Vera I was genuinely surprised at how the story unravelled...." and concluded: "Congratulations ITV, can we have some more please?"
"Ann Cleeves, winner of last year's inaugural Duncan Lawrie Dagger, is another fine author with a strong, credible female protagonist. Detective Vera Stanhope, a heavy-drinking, lumbering loner marooned in middle age, bears little resemblance to the traditionally fit and feisty detective who is such a familiar figure in the contemporary crime novel... Cleeves' particular skill is characterisation. Her characters range from affluent students to a spoiled woman filled with diffused sexual yearnings, from nurses to academics, from painfully doting parents to a group of middle-aged bird-watchers, all with their own secrets. It's a dark, interesting novel with considerable emotional force behind it."
Andrew Taylor, The Spectator
Hin myrku djúp, the Icelandic edition of Hidden Depths, has been shortlisted for the Iceland Noir Icepick Award for best translated crime fiction in Iceland.
- Hidden Depths has now been reissued in a new (January 2016) paperback edition, or quote ISBN: 978-1-5098-1592-0 to your local book shop or library.
- The Soundings Audio Book, read by Anne Dover, was published on 1st June 2007, available from the publisher on cassette or CD, or as an audio download from Amazon
- It is also available for download in a Kindle eBook format.
- The Charnwood Large Print edition (ISBN: 978-1-84617-918-1) was published in October 2007.
- Hidden Depths was first published by Pan Macmillan in February 2007: order the hardback edition from Amazon, or from your local bookshop (quoting the ISBN: 978-1-4050-5473-7)
"Cleeves's softly, softly approach delivers a powerful punch."
Peter Guttridge, The Observer
"Ann Cleeves improves with every book....
"Hidden Depths is a subtle, nuanced book and Cleeves draws her characters with care and compassion. The landscape of rural Northumberland is vividly evoked and Inspector Stanhope - overweight, fallible and driven by personal demons - is a terrific central character."
"Cleeves sets a good scene, this time in Northumberland during a heatwave, and she brings a large cast to life, shifting points of view between bereaved relatives, victims and suspects in a straightforward, satisfyingly traditional detective novel."
Jessica Mann, The Literary Review