The Heron's Cry
The latest mystery by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves is The Heron's Cry, 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."
The Heron's Cry was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022.
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.
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.
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...
"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."
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...
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."
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.
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.
Book Break guides you through the books of Ann Cleeves: you may know Vera Stanhope, but did you know about Ann's first series set in Vera's county of Northumberland, featuring Inspector Stephen Ramsay? Or maybe you're read all of the Shetland books, but didn't know about Ann's standalone titles. Or maybe you'd like to read some short stories next...?
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.
"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