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Wednesday 26 February 2020

‘The Long Call’ by Ann Cleeves

Published by Pam Macmillan,
20 February 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-50988960-0 (PB)

Just outside Barnstaple in north Devon, Detective Inspector Matthew Venn watches his father's funeral from a distance and only approaches the Chapel of Rest when they have all gone in. He is not welcome by his family or the Barum Brethren, he had been cast out for declaring himself an unbeliever.
He is just going back to his car when Constable Ross May rings to tell him a body with stab wounds has been found on the beach at Crow Point. The dead man is identified as a Simon Walden supposedly a down and out and taken in by a Caroline Preece who owns a property in Ilfracombe. Simon served three months in prison for causing the death of a young girl in a car accident. He never quite got over the guilt.

Matthew Venn is married to Jonathan who helps run The Woodyard Centre a place where anyone can go and socialise. There is also a special unit for people with learning difficulties.

Caroline's father Christopher put a great deal of money into the Centre and is chair of Trustees. Simon arrived there suffering from depression, attended group therapy sessions and improved enough to work in the café kitchen there.

Matthew and his team are puzzled as to why Simon travelled every afternoon on the bus to Lovacott village. The landlady of the pub there where he went every day said he had only two cokes and left. It seemed he was waiting for someone, but they never turned up. Who was it?

Word then comes in that a Downs' Syndrome woman who attended the Woodyard has gone missing, can her disappearance have anything to do with Simon's death? They both had connections to the Centre. Thankfully she is found, confused but unharmed. Then another woman sufferer, also connected to The Woodyard is snatched. What is going on?
Meanwhile it appears that Simon was not as destitute as he would have everyone believe, why the big secret?

Something at the Centre is certainly being hushed up and Matthew's boss is concerned Jonathan may be caught up in it. There is even a possibility that Matthew may be taken off the case as it’s a bit too close to home. Can he solve the murder before such a thing happens?

I am a great fan of the series Vera on television and was thrilled to learn Ann Cleeves had started writing about a new detective, I was not disappointed, it’s a brilliant story and shows a great insight of human nature.

A thoroughly enjoyable book full of interesting characters and plenty of twists and turns, all in a beautiful setting. I highly recommend it.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Ann Cleeves worked as a probation officer, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she started writing. She is a member of 'Murder Squad', working with other northern writers to promote crime fiction. In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black. Ann Cleeves is the author behind ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. She has written over twenty-five novels and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez – characters loved both on screen and in print. Both series are international bestsellers.  Ann lives in North Tyneside.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

‘The Patterdale Plot’ by Rebecca Tope

Published by Allison & Busby,
20 February 2020.
ISBN: 978-0-7490-2585-4 (HB)

The 9th book in the series featuring Persimmon ‘Simmy’ Brown finds her in a good place. It is now several years since she moved to the Windermere in the Lake District, following a personal tragedy, and set up a florist business. She is now in a solid relationship with Christopher, a childhood friend, who was interestingly born on exactly the same day as she was. She is pregnant and she and Christopher are looking for a house together. After which the next thing on their agenda will be a wedding. Simmy has set her heart on a house in the small village of Patterdale, but properties for sale in that area are few.

Simmy’s rather eccentric parents Angie and Russell still run a B & B, and it is while visiting with them that cries for help from one of the guests has them rushing to the rescue, but alas too late.  It appears that he has been poisoned.

DI Moxon is soon on the case, but although Simmy has a good relationship with Moxon following previous investigations, in her current condition she doesn’t wish to be involved.  Unfortunately, her assistant, Bonnie, at the flower shop, now walking out with Ben who has gone to university won’t let it rest.

Simmy’s main concern is finding a house for herself and Chris before the baby arrives.   With her mind focusing on house hunting she becomes aware of a demonstration protesting about a building development in Patterdale.  What building development?
It becomes clear that the victim, Grant Childers, had some connection to the people demonstrating against the new building project, and Simmy’s hope of a quiet time enjoying her pregnancy is out of the window.  Not only is her house hunting proving more difficult than she envisaged but the death of a guest at her parents B&B is having a dire effect on their business.  And just who did kill Grant Childers? How and Why?  It’s the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ that provides such a fascinating and compelling read.

Long-time fans of this series will greatly enjoy this tantalising episode, as Simmy moves towards a new phase in her life.   For new readers to the series, this is a complete story in itself, with interesting well-fleshed -out characters and an intriguing mystery to solve. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Rebecca Tope is the author of four popular murder mystery series, featuring Den Cooper, Devon police detective, Drew Slocombe, Undertaker, Thea Osborne, house sitter in the Cotswolds, and more recently Persimmon (Simmy) Brown, a florist. Rebecca grew up on farms, first in Cheshire then in Devon, and now lives in rural Herefordshire on a smallholding situated close to the beautiful Black Mountains.
Besides "ghost writer" of the novels based on the ITV series Rosemary and Thyme. Rebecca is also the proprietor of a small press - Praxis Books. This was established in 1992