The Raging Storm By Ann Cleeves: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Oct 21, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Lorie Lewis Ham, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Lorie Lewis Ham

This week I am honored to not only be reviewing the latest Matthew Venn mystery by Ann Cleeves, but also to have done a short interview with her! Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase it.

The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves
Review by Lorie Lewis Ham

The Raging Storm is the third book in Ann Cleeves’ Two Rivers mystery series featuring Detective Inspector Matthew Venn. The first two books are The Long Call and The Heron’s Cry. I am a huge fan of Ann Cleeves and love this series, so I couldn’t wait for this book to come out.

Famous explorer Jem Rosco returns to his hometown of Greystone, Devon, where he rents a cottage. He is secretive about his reasons for visiting, only stating that he expects a visitor. Every night the locals revel in his stories of adventure as he hangs out in the local pub. But in the middle of a storm, he disappears and is found dead in a dinghy anchored off Scully Cove, a place that has its own dark secrets.
Venn and his team are called in to investigate this death and find themselves stuck staying in rooms at the pub due to the storm. Greystone has uncomfortable memories for Venn as it was a place he visited as a child with his parents where many members of the community are a part of The Brethren—the religious group he grew up with and was rejected by when he came out as gay. As Venn and his team investigate, they discover that secrets from Rosco’s past may have led to his murder, and of course, someone else dies.

Ann Cleeves does an amazing job of not only giving you a great mystery filled with twists and turns that keep you guessing until the end, and wonderful complicated characters, but she also makes the scene come to life. You feel as though you are in the midst of this physical and emotional storm, and the isolation is palpable. The chapters go back and forth between different points of view—from Mary Ford, a member of the lifeboat rota who found the body, to Venn and his team members Jen Rafferty and Ross May.

While the mystery stands on its own, I highly recommend reading the first two books in the series so you don’t miss out on the relationships that have grown and developed over time, and their backgrounds. I especially love Matthew’s relationship with his husband, Jonathan—while it has seen its ups and downs, their love for each other has never faltered.

I highly recommend The Raging Storm, and pretty much anything Ann has written. I am also a huge fan of the TV version of her Vera series.

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and a contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds. Explore Lorie’s mystery writing at Mysteryrat’s Closet. Lorie’s latest mystery novel, One of Us, is set in the Tower District of Fresno and the world of community theatre!<

Interview with Ann Cleeves:

KRL: How did you come up with the idea for the Matthew Venn series?

Ann: I grew up in North Devon where the books are set. Five years ago, my husband died very suddenly and I went back there, to stay with my best friend since school days. I’d always dismissed the Devon coast as a place to set the books, because of its tourists’ image of thatched cottages and cream teas. Although I write traditional crime fiction, I don’t consider myself as a ‘cozy’ writer. But this was winter, and everything was bleak and grey and windswept. I became aware of problems of rural poverty and addiction that the visitors never see. So, the idea for the Matthew Venn series was born.

Ann Cleeves

KRL: How do you go about creating your main characters? Each one is so different from the other and I love them all!

Ann: Thanks so much! I think the characters grow out of the places where the books are set, but each arrived in a different way. I hadn’t thought that The Crow Trap, the first of the Vera books, would be a police procedural, but I don’t plot in advance and I lost my way with the story. I was writing a funeral scene. The church door burst open, and, miraculously in came Vera, fully formed. I had her name and describe her as looking more like a bag lady than a detective.

Raven Black, the first of the Shetland books was conceived as a stand-alone novel. It’s about being an outsider and the struggle to belong. I wanted a central character who would belong in the islands, but still feel remote and set apart. So, I made him a Fair Islander – Fair Isle is the most remote inhabited island in the UK – and gave him that dark appearance and Spanish name. There was a real Spanish Armada ship wrecked off the island in the sixteenth century, so it’s possible that one of the sailors rescued married a local woman…

Matthew is the person he is because of his background within the Brethren. I didn’t originally conceive him as being gay, but the people who’d looked after me following my husband’s death were a gay couple, Martin and Paul. They saw me through those first very difficult months and they’re looking after me still. They were very much in my mind when I started writing, and so Matthew became the person I think he was always meant to be.

KRL: Why did you choose to include the Brethren in the Matthew Venn series? They are very much like the evangelicals here in the US.

Ann: The friend with whom I stayed on that escape to North Devon grew up in such a community. The Barum Brethren is fictitious, but there are other similar small religious groups in the region. Their members are very certain in their faith, and rather entitled. They believe that they will be saved and the rest of us will be damned. Matthew lost his faith and was cast out, ‘unfellowshipped’. It seemed to me that such an individual might join the police service to find again the sense of community, duty, and honour that he was missing.

KRL: What is one thing your readers would be surprised to learn about you?

Ann: I have no interest at all in natural history. Readers assume that I’m a keen birdwatcher, because birds often appear in my books. It was Tim, my husband, who was the ornithologist – he worked in conservation for his whole career. Knowledge of the natural world seeped into my consciousness through some form of osmosis.

You can learn more about Ann and her books on her website.

To enter to win a copy of The Raging Storm, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “raging” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 28, 2023. 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. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Mary Holshouser
    I’ll put this series on my list.
    Have to read the first books if I
    get this book.
    thanks txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. I have recently read two other of her books, so I know I will enjoy reading The Raging Storm by Ann Cleeves.

  3. It sounds really good.

  4. Sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the chance.

  5. We have a winner!


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