by Kathleen Costa
Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
“Sorry, pet, it’s murder.”
DCI Vera Stanhope has been the lead detective for the Northumberland Police Constabulary for many years although don’t comment on the amount of years it truly is. She is the epitome of a workaholic, rarely taking time off, as she is more comfortable in the middle of an investigation with the people she considers like family. Growing up she was always an outsider due to her short and plump stature and her father’s peculiar, if not illegal, pastime. But, she’s good at her job, meticulous in her thoughts, and despite her casual attire, she’s a professional. Joe Ashworth is up close and personal with all things Vera Stanhope as the second in command. She thinks of him as more the son she never had mentoring his skill, fostering his ambition, and relying on his support, but she only floats along the surface of any real emotional connection, which is fine with Joe. They are a good team, though, especially when murder is their opponent.
The Rising Tide Earns 5+/5 Reunions…Clever & Totally Engaging Gem!
Fifty years ago, a handful of teenagers bonded at an Only Connect weekend set up by their “call me Judy” teacher, afterwards, they agreed to return every five years for a reunion. Sadly, at the first of many reunions, one of their group died in a tragic accident. After quarreling with her close friend Rick, Isobel grabbed her car keys to leave. The tide had already started its rise engulfing the causeway that led to and from the island, and Isobel became tragically trapped. Her death greatly effected the group, but whether with or without their spouses and children, they still vowed to meet on the island.
Now, after fifty years of friendship during good times and bad, the group reunites on Holy Island, staying in the refurbished, former convent called the Pilgrims’ House as they did all those years ago. Starting in the adjoining chapel, as they always have, with Phillip, an Anglican priest, leading the group in a quiet moment. Annie notices age is catching up with all of them and sadly how Ken’s health is rapidly deteriorating. Their first night, lubricated with alcohol, like usual, the talk turns to more revealing disclosures. Rick shares his long ago escapade with their former teacher, but since some details are fuzzy due to the passage of time and the amount of alcohol he consumed back then, he tells the group they’ll have to read all about it and other events in the book he’s working on. “All our secrets, actually, finally seeing the light of day.” However, all the details have gone to the grave since, the next morning, Annie finds Rick hanging from the rafters…Suicide or murder? That’s what Vera and her team will determine, and it won’t be easy, especially when a second murder complicates the investigation.
Brilliant Favorite! Ann Cleeves channels the best of Vera into another complex murder mystery for the tenth book in the series. The long-time friends have lost another of their group, but it is obvious they are closely guarding secrets from the past and present causing Vera to frequently reinterview several of the group. The victim had his own challenges considering his reputation with women, a couple of ex-wives, and charges of misconduct that cost him his BBC job, and as parties of interest are examined and motives explored and revealed, it isn’t obvious who tried to mask murder as suicide. The past, the years in-between, and the present all seem important to the investigation, but as with other Cleeves’ books and the television show itself, it isn’t straightforward and the final arrest, although a surprise, is filled with an intense imperative and a shocking loss.
The murder mystery with its twists, surprise connections, and engaging misdirection along with the procedures in the official investigation are fascinating, clever, and well-developed, but unlike the television show, it’s the characters, their background and personal motivations, that make Cleeves’ work outstanding. Vera Stanhope, at the top of the hierarchy, is a taskmaster, much like the character Brenda Blethyn portrays in the series, but in the books, we learn more about Vera’s past, her struggles, and her relationship with those around her. DS Joe Ashworth, next in the chain of command, has a more familial relationship than professional with Vera; he understands her quirks, moods, and methods and is long past feeling angst or being insulted by her demands, but the job is a strain on his marriage and insights are provided to better under Joe as husband and father. The dynamic between DS Ashworth and DC Holly Clarke still has a bit of sibling-like rivalry, mostly from Clarke’s perspective as the younger colleague, but Ashworth finds himself with a pang of jealousy when overlooked for an assignment given to Holly. Holly’s ambition is much like Vera in her youth, but unlike Vera, she recognizes the need for physical fitness and a real social life. The suspects, too, were as varied in personality as in the level of involvement, and weeding through their stories and answers to official questions was an absorbing journey. The characters are definitely the star of the book. Top contender for my Best of 2022!
ALERT! FREE, at the time of this posting!
Amazon has available Ann Cleeves’ newest short story, The Woman on the Island, from her Vera Stanhope series. It is an engaging short with DCI Vera Stanhope enjoying “a rare day off from policing.” The sights, sounds, and smells of Holy Island, the setting of The Rising Tide, sparks a forty-year-old memory when, as a teenager, she was a reluctant passenger visiting the island with her father Hector. Her detective skills seemed to take root when she becomes curious about the young, exotic redhead her father is seen with on the beach. What a surprising turn of events, and genesis for a “doing it my way” attitude.
Cleeves’ short provided further insights into the dynamic between father and daughter. His almost bullying manner and her acquiescing again, his overindulgence and her self-control, his risk taking and her suspicions, his secrets and her curiosity. Watching the encounter, we get a look at the observational skills that would one day make “Vee” a brilliant detective, but the story itself is only half of the book; the other half is a sneak peak of the newest novel, The Rising Tide. I enjoyed Vera’s curiosity and insights into the early Vera, but the reveal of the woman’s identity had so much more potential. I would have preferred more intrigue into discovering the identity along with the reason for the meeting on the island. Enjoyable, but too short. Earns 4.5/5 Surprise Identities!
Be a Big Fan of Ann Cleeves!
Ann Cleeves is the author of two very popular literary series that have been turned into worldwide popular television series: VERA and Shetland. In February 2016, she was named UK’s National Libraries Day ambassador. She said: “Libraries matter. If we believe in equality of opportunity we must fight not just for the buildings but for the range of books inside and the skilled staff who can promote reading in all its forms. Not only do libraries encourage us to be more tolerant and better informed, they contribute enormously to the wealth of the nation.”
To enter to win a copy of The Rising Tide, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “tide,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 24, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win–we will delete it after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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