Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves

If you're the type of reader who appreciates Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope's style, the "challenge of labyrinthine investigation", you might want to check out Ann Cleeves' latest police procedural, The Moth Catcher. The story is intricately plotted, developing carefully as the mystery and the investigation unfolds.

Valley Farm is a small quiet community in Northumberland. When the most influential people there, the major and his wife, go to Australia to visit their son, they hire a house-sitter, Patrick Randle. But, Randle is found dead in a lane, and DI Vera Stanhope is the first to respond to the call for police. She's joined at the crime scene by Joe Ashworth, and the two walk to the big house to check it out. It's there they find another body. Now, they have a tangled mess on their hands. Two murders, different methods, and two men with only a loose connection. Vera and her team will have to dig for answers to this one.

And, in digging, they'll realize that Valley Farm isn't quite as peaceful as it seems. The three couples who live close to the crime scene may seem straightforward, retirees who enjoy a quiet life. But, Vera has a weird feeling about them, as if they all have "A kind of desperation".

Vera Stanhope is a fascinating character herself. "There was something ghoulish about her passion for her work, for suspicious death and other people's tragedies." But, those of us who appreciate the step-by-step unfolding of police investigations may be of the same mind, with a passion for these stories. Vera's methodical plodding, her astute questioning of witnesses, and her unusual manipulation of her team, make her an intriguing character. Readers of Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope mysteries return to watch Vera in action, as much as to watch the unraveling of the case. The Moth Catcher is Vera at her best.

Ann Cleeves' website is

The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves. Minotaur Books. 2016. ISBN 9781250105424 (hardcover), 400p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

It's weird. We've watched all of the VERA episodes on PBS but I've never read the books. I wonder if you picture Brenda Blethyn when you're reading them? I should look for the first book but, as usual, I am so backed up with library books and others, I don't know where to fit anything else in.

Lesa said...

I only saw a couple of the VERA episodes when Minotaur sent me a dvd, but even I picture Brenda Blethyn when I read them, Jeff. I get it! I understand backed up with books!

Kathleen Costa said...

I love the Vera television series with Brenda is a great twist to the Miss Marple style of deductive reasoning. I never thought about reading the book....I do now!

Lesa said...

I really like the books, Kathleen.

Reine said...

I love all the Ann Cleeves books. I find the TV shows are very true to the books, but condensed of course. It's a show I can enjoy watching with my husband.

Lesa said...

I love them, too, Reine. And, she has a new Shetland Islands book coming out. Looking forward to that as well!