The Moth Catcher

"...a brilliant addition to this addictive series from an author at the zenith of her creativity."


Valley Farm is a small community made up of a large house and estate, a small development of luxury houses and one or two old cottages. When the owners of the large house are away they employ a house sitter to look after the house and garden. This young man, Patrick, is found dead in the nearby lane, and when the police come to investigate, they find the body of an older man in the big house. The only thing that the two dead men had in common was a love and knowledge of moths.

Closer investigation of the idyllic development finds several people with secrets to hide. These may have a bearing on the apparently motiveless deaths. On the surface every one is friendly and gets on well with each other. There is even a regular social gathering most weeks, but when Vera starts to probe and uses her instinct for rooting out secrets and unsettling relationships, the truth slowly begins to emerge. It touches on the past from academia to prison.

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The Moth Catcher’, the seventh book in the Vera Stanhope series, is set in the picturesque part of Vera’s bailiwick. The great strengths of Cleeves’ writing are the beautiful and convincing characterisation and the storming story line. Vera is a wonderful character, a strong woman with immense warmth as well as infuriating habits. Above all she is a consummate detective. The attraction of the character is demonstrated by the huge success of the TV series. Apart from the central character, there are a whole cast of supporting characters whose motivations and actions are beautifully drawn. Ann Cleeves shows great understanding of human nature and above all has the talent to pass this understanding on to her readers. The plot strands are intricate and interwoven carefully, but always based on Ann’s knowledge of the way people work. Even the villains are understandable and on occasion invoke sympathy. I have enjoyed Cleeves’ books for many years now and she gets better and better with every new book. ‘The Moth Catcher’ has everyone’s favourite detective, an intimidating landscape of breath-taking beauty and harshness in equal measure and a plot Christie would have been proud of. This is a brilliant addition to this addictive series from an author at the zenith of her creativity.

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