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Cleeves--New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows--returns with the extraordinary follow-up to The Long Call, in the Two Rivers series, soon to be a major TV series too.
North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder--Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter's broken vases.
Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He's a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved, though, to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.
Then another body is found--killed in a similar way. Matthew soon finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home.
DI Matthew Venn returns in The Heron's Cry, in Ann Cleeves powerful next novel, proving once again that she is a master of her craft.
Source: NetGalley; ARC kindly provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
You know, when I read The Long Call last year, I thought it was good and I liked DI Venn. It surprised me how often I'd think back to the story and in particular, DI Venn. I was drawn to his calmness, his ability to be still in the midst of chaos as he quietly turned things over in his mind while also managing detectives under him whose personalities differed from him. It's a quality I so wish I could master. The Heron's Cry was obviously going to land on my TBR pile.
I think the greatest thrill about any Ann Cleeves novel is that she's able to pack in so much story. She seamlessly moves from character to character, inviting the reader into their private thoughts and drops all sorts of insightful, curious notes. I like her way of storytelling because whether or not those details are pertinent to the main mystery at hand, they're excellent for understanding the various personalities that populate the village or community the story is set in. With regards to DI Venn, she strikes a perfect balance between his professional and personal sides which he himself tries to keep as separate as possible. While he's often deliberate in his intentions and carries himself in a disciplined manner, Cleeves shows us his tender qualities, which are drawn out whenever he's around his husband, Jonathan. They're not showy displays of affection but simply more honest, more vulnerable interactions where Venn feels safest and allows for a more emotional connection. The first book in the series examined his strict religious upbringing and his continued struggle to make peace with it. The Heron's Call continues that line and also brings Venn closer to possibly reconciling with his religious mother. If not that, at least understanding her better.
In The Heron's Call, the victim, Dr. Yeo is an admired member of the community. Not only is he personally known to one of the detectives on Venn's team, a few of the suspects are as well. And some of them are even high profile. The personal and professional sides clash a bit amongst the detectives which for sure make conducting the investigation trickier. Dr. Yeo was working for an organization that advocates for patient rights and his latest casework involved the deaths of patients who had been suffering from depression. (As this is a sensitive subject and the investigation uncovers some troubling details I will leave a few content/trigger warnings at the end of this review.)
I would say my only disappointment with The Heron's Cry was that I figured out the whodunnit a few chapters before the big reveal. It's weird because most often when I read mysteries, I like to try to guess at it and I'm generally wrong which is a good thing for me because I'd rather that twist or surprise, but in this case I wanted that question to carry me through the end. It didn't take away from Cleeve's marvelous writing or the suspense of the story, however, so I still say this reading experience is a win. Cleeve's writes the kind of mystery that I crave - thrilling, compassionate, deeply emotional and thoughtful. Fans of small village British mysteries will take to this one as well!
- depression; death of one of the previous patients by suicide; mention of online suicide chat forum; a separate group within that suicide forum that encourages taking action towards suicide