ANN CLEEVES

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Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year logo

The Heron's Cry, the latest mystery by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, has been longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022. The longlist was selected by an academy of professionals - crime writing authors, agents, reviewers and others - but now the public are now invited to vote for a shortlist of six titles. You have until 26th May to vote for Ann (or any of the other longlisted titles). The shortlist will be announced, and winner voting open on 14th June. The winner will be revealed on the opening night of Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, at Harrogate in July.

The Heron's Cry, UK edition

The Heron's Cry is a second case for detective Matthew Venn and his colleague Jen Rafferty, following their first appearance in The Long Call - as seen on TV, where they were played by Ben Aldridge and Pearl Mackie.

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder - Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter's broken vases.

"This character-driven exploration of people's darkest flaws is a sterling example of Cleeves' formidable talents."

Kirkus Reviews

The Heron's Cry is published in the UK by Pan MacMillan; also available as an audiobook read by Jack Holden. It is published in the US by Minotaur Books.

And if you haven't yet watched the dramatisation of The Long Call, it isn't too late! All four episodes were broadcast in the UK on the week beginning Monday 25th October, and the whole series is available on demand on the ITV Hub. In the US it is streamed on Britbox.

There's a new case for Matthew Venn in a short story, The Girls on the Shore, available now - and including an exclusive extract from the tenth Vera novel, The Rising Tide!

There's more information here, about the show, and about the books.



Brenda Blethyn as Vera Stanhope, with Kenny Doughty as Aiden Healy

Success for VERA

There were awards for VERA at the North East Royal Television Society Awards, presented at a star-studded event at the Hillton Newcastle-Gateshead in February 2022. The programme, starring Brenda Blethyn as the tenacious Detective Vera Stanhope, won the prestigious Best Drama award and the actress won for Best Drama Performance. Accepting the awards, Brenda Blethyn thanked the Royal Television Society, and said: "I am absolutely thrilled to bits. This year sees us embarking on season 12 of Vera, so that means we'll have made 50 feature length Vera films."

There was a special award for the production team, too, which may be some comfort for the many fans who've been left hungry for more of Ann Cleeves' much-loved detective. Series 11 of VERA made its first appearance in August 2021 with two episodes, reappeared to brighten our New Year with another two episodes in January 2021, and has now left us in suspense waiting for the remaining two stories in the season. Now it has won a Drama Pandemic Innovation Award, recognising the ingenuity of Team Vera in continuing to produce the series during lockdowns with significant restrictions in place.

'Frozen' and 'The Darkest Evening'

The latest Vera Stanhope book, The Darkest Evening finds Vera in the wild Northumberland winter, driving home through the countryside during a swirling blizzard. Her only thought is to get there quickly, but with the snow driving down heavily, she becomes disorientated and loses her way...

star"This fair-play mystery brims with fully developed suspects and motives that are hidden in plain sight. Skillful misdirection masks the killer's identity. This page-turner is must reading for fans as well as newcomers."

Publishers' Weekly

And there's more to look forward to. Ann's next book, coming in September 2022, is another case for Vera. It is called The Rising Tide, it is set on the beautiful tidal island of Lindisfarne, and if you can't wait to find out more, the first chapters are included in the Matthew Venn novella, The Girls on the Shore.

Read more about all things Vera - in print and on TV - here.



Shetland - not the end...

Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez

Series 6 of Shetland has won the Thalia Proctor award for best adapted TV crime drama, announced at Crimefest in May 2022. (Among the other series shortlisted was Vera series 11!)

The series ended on a cliffhanger, with a mystery solved - and with some dramatic developments in the lives of Perez and his team. If you're not up to date, the full series is still available now to watch on demand - and now you can buy the full story on DVD. Meanwhile, we wait ompatiently for series 7: Douglas Henshall tweeted in October that work in Shetland was now complete, and production has transferred to Glasgow.

Shetland takes as its point of departure the characters and settings of Ann's award-winning series of novels, but has developed its own stories. All six past series of the award-winning television drama, inspired by - but very different to - Ann Cleeves's Shetland mysteries, and starring Douglas Henshall as DI Jimmy Perez, are now available on DVD in the UK. US viewers can also watch it on BritBox or with Prime Video. Details here.

Ann says "I do feel a bit overwhelmed - both The Long Call and Shetland on this autumn. Wild Britain in all its glory from the Northern Isles to the West Country, beautifully filmed. I'm a very lucky bunny."

Read more about Shetland: the books, the TV series, and the islands!


Congratulations, Ann Cleeves OBE!

Ann Cleeves has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours List, "for services to Reading and Libraries." Ann thanks everyone for the kind wishes, and says "I'm delighted that this honour highlights the importance of reading and libraries and celebrates the skilled staff who work in the field."

Best-selling crime-writer Ann Cleeves also wins awards for her mystery novels, and is also the creator of an astonishing three television favourite detectives: the incomparable Vera Stanhope, played by Brenda Blethyn on ITV's VERA, Shetland's Jimmy Perez and now - after an autumn which saw two drama series based on her creations on screen simultaneously - newcomer Matthew Venn.


Reading for Wellbeing header

Award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves is delighted at progress on a scheme she is helping to fund, looking at the importance of reading on health and wellbeing.

The first Community Reading Workers are now in place for a pilot project. The scheme is also being supported by five North East local authorities: Northumberland, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Co Durham and South Tees. GPs, social prescribers and community workers will be able to refer individuals who may be struggling with chronic pain, anxiety, stress, depression or loneliness to the reading workers, who will provide friendship and a listening ear, as well as access to books, enthusiastic librarians and other readers.

Working in areas of high social deprivation, the workers will take a holistic and personalised approach to support, empower and motivate individuals to take proactive steps to improve their health and wellbeing by providing practical help though access to books and spaces/places for reading, and emotional support through improved confidence in reading and relationship building.

All the workers - nine in total over the five local authorities - will complete a bespoke Reading for Wellbeing course designed by the brilliant Opening The Book as part of their induction, and the project will undergo evaluation by academics in the region. While initial funding is for one year, Ann hopes the evaluation will support future investment and scale up.

Read more about the background to Ann's idea here.


Other Books

The Starlings and Other Stories A Day in the Death of Dorothea Cassidy - Pan Classic Burial of Ghosts The Sleeping and the Dead

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!"

Val McDermid

In true Agatha Christie style, Cleeves once again pulls the wool over our eyes with cunning and conviction

Colin Dexter

A most satisfying mystery set in an isolated and intriguing location

Peter Robinson


Ann Cleeves is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk.

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Last update: 17th May 2022.