A silent community. A murderer among them.
Harbour Street is the sixth book in Ann Cleeves' series of crime novels about Vera Stanhope, played in the TV detective drama VERA by Brenda Blethyn.
As the snow falls thickly on Newcastle, the shouts and laughter of Christmas revellers break the muffled silence. Detective Joe Ashworth and his daughter Jessie are swept along in the jostling crowd onto the Metro.
But when the train is stopped due to the bad weather, and the other passengers fade into the swirling snow, Jessie notices that an old lady hasn't left the train: Margaret Krukowski has been fatally stabbed as she sat on the crowded train. Nobody, including the policeman himself, sees the stabbing take place. Margaret's murderer is seemingly invisible; her killing motiveless. Why would anyone want to harm this reserved, elegant lady?
Arriving at the scene, DI Vera Stanhope is relieved to have an excuse to escape the holiday festivities. As she stands on the silent, snow-covered station platform, Vera feels a familiar buzz of anticipation, sensing that this will be a complex and unusual case. Soon Vera and Joe are on their way to the south Northumberland town of Mardle, where Margaret lived, to begin their inquiry.
Then, just days later, a second woman is murdered. Vera knows that to find the key to this new killing she needs to understand what had been troubling Margaret so deeply before she died - before another life is lost. She can feel in her bones that there's a link. Retracing Margaret's final steps, Vera finds herself searching deep into the hidden past of this seemingly innocent neighbourhood, led by clues that keep revolving around one street ...
Why are the residents of Harbour Street so reluctant to speak?
Told with piercing prose and a forensic eye, Ann Cleeves' gripping new novel explores what happens when a community closes ranks to protect their own - and at what point silent witnesses become complicit.
"Cleeves offers up evocative settings and flawed characters with depth, making her mysteries wonderfully addictive. Her latest is no exception."
"Cleeves expertly handles the interplay among Vera - outsized both in stature and personality - her staff, and the villagers... You don't have to be a fan of the TV show...to enjoy this top-notch police procedural."
Explore the landscapes of Harbour Street with the Book Trail. The Guardian has also published Ann's short guide to Vera's Northumberland: read what she has to say about Amble, and compare her descriptions of Mardle, the setting for Harbour Street! And read more reviews below:
Harbour Street was adapted as the first episode of series four of ITV's VERA.
In the UK
Harbour Street was first published by Pan Macmillan on 16th January 2014:
- Order the hardback edition from Amazon or or from any bookshop (ISBN: 978-0-2307-6018-9)
- Order the newly reissued paperback from Amazon, or, if you can't find a copy in your favourite bookshop, ask them to order it for you (ISBN: 978-1-5290-5015-8)
- Download the Kindle edition.
- The audio edition, read by Janine Birkett, is available as an audio download from Audible.com.
- Also available in a Large Print edition.
In the US
The US edition of Harbour Street was published by St Martins Minotaur on 1st December 2015:
"There is no shirking of the miseries and cruelties of real life in this series, but Cleeves displays them without resorting to any graphic violence. She has always rendered the landscape and inhabitants of the North East of England with a quiet skill but there is a sense of expansion in the writing of Harbour Street and a confidence that make it even more appealing than its predecessors."
N.J. Cooper, Book Oxygen
"I didn't expect the final reveal. Those cleverly disguised dead ends had me completely fooled, which is just the way I like it. But Harbour Street is one of those books that you don't want to finish, because the journey has been so engrossing and enjoyable, and I was sorry to say goodbye to Mardle."
"It's a neatly crafted piece of work, and a reminder that the great success that Ann has enjoyed in recent years, both with these books and the Shetland novels starring another likeable cop, Jimmy Perez, is well deserved."
"...this classy and classic whodunit series... Cleeves, a master storyteller with a forensic eye for small detail, is fast becoming the new Agatha Christie with her fiendishly clever plotting, compelling characterisation and earthy, authentic dialogue.."