The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves
A lot of you have probably read this book, given that it was first published 24 years ago, but I’m new to the world of Detective Investigator Vera Stanhope and I had to share my excitement with you.
Three women have taken on the assignment of helping to prepare an environmental impact statement for a company that wants to build a quarry in a picturesque area not far from a small village in Northumberland, England. The people who live in the village have vehement feelings about the quarry, both for and against. The quarry will provide jobs for people in the area, but it will also blight the landscape with belching industrial buildings, roads, and lots of noisy trucks.
While the women are conducting the environmental survey, they agree to stay in a small cottage very close to the proposed site of the quarry. This will make it easier for them to get out early every morning or to go out late in the afternoon or evening to do their work. Nearby is a farm, owned by Dougie and Bella Furness, which abuts the proposed quarry land.
Rachael, the leader of the trio, is the first woman to arrive at the cottage. Bella Furness is a good friend of hers and she looks forward to an evening of catching up before the project work begins. But when she goes looking for Bella, she finds, to her horror, that Bella has killed herself. It’s inexplicable. Why would Bella have willingly left her husband to fend for himself? He is disabled and requires around-the-clock care, which she has provided lovingly and willingly. Why would she have left the farm, which was the most important thing in her life after Dougie? And why would she leave behind a cryptic note that explains little?
Bella’s death is the catalyst which ignites a series of events that leads to more death and unanswered questions.
Enter Vera Stanhope, a detective investigator with a sharp tongue and a mind of her own. This is a woman who does not suffer fools gladly. She knows all the seemingly-unrelated deaths are connected somehow—she can feel it—but she needs the evidence to prove it. Through good, old-fashioned detective work and asking the right questions, Vera gets to the bottom of the mystery and the shocking reason behind all the deaths.
I love Vera Stanhope. She’s feisty and opinionated and smart. People listen to her because she demands it and because, more often than not, she’s right. She makes things happen and isn’t afraid of stepping on toes and making people uncomfortable to get the answers she needs. But she’s also a woman with a history, and little by little, the reader learns more about Vera’s unique background as the story progresses.
Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope books are so engaging that they’ve been made into a television series (beginning in 2011). Again, because I’m apparently at least a dozen years behind the times, I’ve never seen the shows. Rest assured that’s going to change. Soon.
I plan to read every book in the Vera Stanhope series. Have you read them? Have you seen the shows? What did you think?
I would recommend The Crow Trap to anyone who loves a great British police procedural and anyone who loves a spunky female main character.
St. Patrick’s Fray, book 7 in the Juniper Junction Cozy Holiday Mystery Series, will be released on Friday! Here’s a look at the cover and the blurb, and a link for you to preorder your copy. The paperback edition will be released very soon.
Lilly could use a little luck o’ the Irish…
When a business tycoon winds up dead shortly after unleashing a scathing and humiliating criticism of Lilly and her jewelry designs, Lilly finds herself under suspicion of committing murder. And though she has an alibi, the only person who can confirm it is a two-month-old baby.
To make matters worse, Lilly’s shop is the target of a shocking St. Patrick’s Day smash-and-grab robbery by an unlikely and frightful assailant. The real horror, though, comes after the robbery, when Lilly and her husband become the targets of an extortionist who’s willing to go to frightening lengths to get what he wants.
Can Lilly turn her luck around before the killer strikes again and she loses the people most dear to her?
Get your copy here!