Ann Cleeves

The Seagull

"I love these books"


Former Detective Superintendent and now prison inmate, John Brace, wants to talk to Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope. As Vera was instrumental in putting him into prison for his involvement with the death of a gamekeeper, she is intrigued and a little suspicious when she goes to see him. He wants a trade-off; he will tell her what happened to Robbie Marshall who disappeared twenty years ago with a host of suspicious deals attributed to him, if Vera will keep an eye on his daughter and grandchildren. Brace's corrupt dealings have enabled him to support them financially.

When Vera follows up his lead she finds two bodies. These take her back in time to when her father was alive and very much one of the buddies of John Brace, Robbie Marshall and the mysterious “Prof”: the Gang of Four. All clues lead back to The Seagull, an upmarket nightclub that functioned in the nineties.

Vera resists believing that her father, Hector, is somehow involved but is too honest a cop not to consider the possibility. She has always known that he flirted with illegality, particularly if it relates to his precious birds' eggs.

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Another wonderful instalment of the life of DI Vera Stanhope! Ann Cleeves has an enviable talent that produces wonderful characters who step out from the page and involve us in their lives. A new book on Vera is always welcome as an update on her and her colleagues. But the main attraction of these books is the outstanding stories that they tell, together with the psychological insight into how people work. There is a brilliant evocation of a small seaside town, faded from its previous glory, but with a spark of life just beginning to evolve. The setting for the Vera books is wonderful as it includes gritty industrial towns, breath-taking scenery and now ordinary seaside towns emerging from their earlier heyday. I love these books.

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