As though to a flame, they were drawn to their deaths
This case was different from anything Vera had ever worked before. Two bodies, connected but not lying together. And nothing made her feel as alive as murder.
Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they’re away. But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane into the valley – a beautiful, lonely place to die.
DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene, with her detectives Holly and Joe. When they look round the attic of the big house – where Patrick has a flat – she finds the body of a second man. All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths – catching these beautiful, rare creatures.
The three couples who live in the Valley Farm development have secrets too: Annie and Sam’s daughter is due to be released from prison any day; Nigel watches, silently, every day, from his window. As Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that there may be deadly secrets trapped here.
This is the second book about Vera Stanhope I have read and luckily, I don’t remember viewing the story on TV. The contrast between the beauty of this idyllic Northumbrian valley and the idle lives of the “retired hedonists club” who live in the impressive newly built houses is not lost on Vera. How could such boring individuals have any connection to the murders which have occurred at Valley Farm? And can there be a connection to Lizzie, a troubled young woman who is about to be released from prison?
As I would expect from a book by Ann Cleeves, this novel studies the human psyche. Vera’s reliable deputy, Joe is surprised when she selects newcomer Holly to take an active part in the investigation. The two women have nothing in common, but Vera is trying to give Holly the chance to prove herself. Like her boss, Holly lives alone but her accommodation is pristine and orderly and she lacks Vera’s ability to coax people into revealing information. Meanwhile Annie and Sam wait fearfully for the release of their daughter, Lizzie, from prison, anxious that their neighbours might be disturbed by the news.
The connection between the victims seems impossible to fathom but gradually clues are revealed and finally Vera and Holly identify the murderer when it is almost too late. A very satisfying conclusion.
My review of Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves