Best-selling crime-writer Ann Cleeves wins awards for her novels, mystery 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.
The Heron's Cry
Ann Cleeves' latest mystery, 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."
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, streaming starts on Britbox on October 28th.
There's more information here, about the show, and about the books.
Shetland - not the end...
Series 6 of Shetland has completed its broadcast run, with a mystery solved - and with some dramatic developments in the lives of Perez and his team. If you've been waiting to binge on the whole story all in one go, it is available now to watch on demand.
Meanwhile, filming is well advanced on 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 five 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 - and series 6 will follow in December. 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."
Waiting for VERA
Viewers have now seen the first two episodes of the long-awaited eleventh series of VERA: if you missed them, they are both available for catch-up on the ITV Hub. But, because filming was disrupted by the pandemic, we now have to wait until 2022 for the four remaining episodes of series 11; but the good news is that the books are available to read whenever we like!
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."
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.
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