In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.
Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.
A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.
I have already enjoyed reading several of the Shetland and Vera novels, so I was looking forward to a new area and a different detective to meet via the pen of Ann Cleeves. Matthew Venn is a very different main character although equally determined to solve crimes. Having rejected his childhood background in a strict evangelical community, he has progressed in his police career and recently found happiness in marriage to his partner Jonathan. But this murder has taken place close to his home and investigations lead both to the Woodyard community centre run by Jonathan and also to members of his mother’s church.
Like all books by Ann Cleeves, characterisation is paramount. The victim, Simon, was a complex man not really understood by those he lived with. Even apparent bystanders raise questions in both the reader’s mind and Matthew’s. One important character, Lucy, has Down’s syndrome and her lively, independent spirit adds immensely to the plot. The weakest character is Jonathan. I didn’t feel I knew him or what mattered most to him. Matthew’s relationship with his detective constables, Jen and Ross, were essential aspects of the storyline and Jen’s well-rounded personality, in particular, brought events to life.
I anticipate many more intriguing stories about this sensitive Detective Inspector and his team in a rather idyllic location.
The Long Call on Amazon UK
My review of Raven Black by Ann Cleeves