Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves

Another engrossing mystery by Ann Cleeves, the second of the Vera series. As with all Anne’s work, this book provides an atmospheric setting and a close dissection of a small community and its undercurrents. 

Ten years ago, in a village near the mouth of the Humber River in East Yorkshire, Abigail Mantel, fifteen-years-old, was murdered. Another young woman Jeanie Long was convicted of her murder. Now two things have happened in close succession: a witness has come forward to provide Jeanie with an alibi, and Jeanie has taken her own life in prison. This sets off an investigation by Vera and her team, looking into the murder and the inadequacies of the original investigation.

There are several points of view in this novel, which are handled deftly. The tangled relationships had be thumbing backwards and forwards and re-reading bits, to get people sorted out in my head, but I take that to be my sleepy inattention, rather than any failure of the book. 

Ann’s characters are complex and always entirely believable. She observes people with a keen eye and a big intelligent heart.

P D James once said a mystery writer needs a sliver of ice in the heart in order to present people clearly, with all their failings. With Ann Cleeves books I don’t see that. This is an author who cares about her people. 

And so do we. 

Ann’s description of the coast at night make even this industrial part of the world beautiful. Otherwise the setting is definitely in the haunting and brooding category. There is an insight into the work of pilots at the mouth of the Humber in Yorkshire, which I found fascinating. It was an added bonus to a mystery that had be intrigued right up until the end.

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