Silent Voices (Vera Stanhope Series #4)

( 2 )

Overview

Ann Cleeves has thrilled readers everywhere with her critically acclaimed mystery series set in the Shetland Islands, which began with the award-winning Raven Black. Now, Cleeves is back with another compelling mystery series (set in Northumberland, England). This one features detective Vera Stanhope, the lead character played by Brenda Blethyn on the hit television series “Vera.” Destined for the same kind of fame achieved by Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, the show is a favorite of millions of viewers in the ...

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Silent Voices (Vera Stanhope Series #4)

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Overview

Ann Cleeves has thrilled readers everywhere with her critically acclaimed mystery series set in the Shetland Islands, which began with the award-winning Raven Black. Now, Cleeves is back with another compelling mystery series (set in Northumberland, England). This one features detective Vera Stanhope, the lead character played by Brenda Blethyn on the hit television series “Vera.” Destined for the same kind of fame achieved by Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse, the show is a favorite of millions of viewers in the U.K. and is available here on Netflix, PBS, and Amazon.  

 

When Vera finds the body of a woman in the sauna of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she’s uncovered a simple death of natural causes. But when a closer inspection reveals bruises around the victim’s throat, Vera’s team start their investigation. Vera and her colleagues soon uncover details in the victim’s past that may explain her untimely death. But Vera knows from experience that there’s no such thing as a simple case, and this one gets more baffling by the minute.

With pitch-perfect writing, a finely tuned mystery, and a protagonist with a complex past of her own, Silent Voices is a stand out penned by one of Britain’s most successful mystery writers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Northumbrian Det. Insp. Vera Stanhope makes her winning U.S. debut in this mildly chaotic police procedural, the fourth entry in a series that’s the basis for Vera, a British TV crime show now filming its third season. When Vera discovers the strangled body of social worker Jenny Lister in the steam room of Newcastle’s Willows Health Club, she assembles her irreverent but loyal crew, who start interviewing the staff. They eventually focus on Danny Shaw, the club’s sly temporary cleaner. Meanwhile, Vera discovers a strong link between several women in Jenny’s village, Barnard Bridge, who all have ties to Jenny and her work with foster families and adoptions. The entire team wisely uses an investigator’s greatest resource: village gossip. Yet it is Stanhope herself—a homely, overweight spinster with blotchy skin, a fondness for alcohol, and a toxic personality—who, using intuition and subtle intimidation, brings all the disorganization to an illogical but satisfying conclusion. (May)
From the Publisher
“I do love Vera!” —Val McDermid

"Excellent . . . Intricate plotting makes for a compulsive read.” —The Independent (UK)

“Detective Vera Stanhope is a remarkable creation.” —Bookseller (UK)

“One of the most appealing fictional detectives to emerge since Andy Dalziel got into his stride.” —Martin Edwards, Spintingler Magazine (UK) 

“Watch out for Ann Cleeves . . . Snapped up by ITV, her creation, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, is the new Frost, played by Brenda Blethyn.” —Red magazine (UK)

“Cleeves has hit the big time . . . This is going to be a winner!” —BBC Front Row (UK)

“An absorbingly cunning mystery.” —Daily Mail (UK)

Kirkus Reviews
The U.S. introduction to that scruffy, tactless, unloved loner, middle-aged Inspector Vera Stanhope. Struggling to get in shape at the Willows Health Club, DI Vera Stanhope, of the Northumbria Police, heads from the swimming pool to the steam room, where she discovers a dead woman curled up in a corner, a victim of strangulation. Social worker Jenny Lister had at least three excellent reasons to get murdered. First, she evidently had a secret lover. Second, she may have seen the person pilfering the staff lockers. Third, she was once involved with the Elias Jones case, in which a young tot's mum drowned him in a bid to retain her man's love. The case also caused Connie Masters, the caseworker Jenny supervised, to be pilloried by the press and fired. Coincidentally, Connie is now living in Jenny's small village, where social arbiter Veronica Eliot seems determined to make her life hell. With her customary lack of grace, Vera is soon antagonizing witnesses and relying on her second-in-command, young Sgt. Joe Ashworth, to smooth matters over. Jenny's daughter Hannah and Veronica's son Simon, who agreed to defer their marriage at their mothers' insistence, may be above suspicion, but everyone else is fair game--particularly Danny Shaw, a student working as the Willows' janitor, until he too is strangled. Tedious interrogations reveal age-old parent–child brouhahas, one of which will eventually jeopardize Connie and her daughter and force Ashworth into the role of hero. It's easy to admire Vera's brainpower but hard to overlook her mean-spirited management style. Still, her adventures, of which this is the fourth, have been a hit on British television, and readers devoted to Cleeves' tales of Jimmy Perez (Blue Lightning, 2010, etc.) will want to give Vera a try.
The Barnes & Noble Review

The fictional female detective has altered greatly since the heyday of the genteel village lady who stumbles upon murder. And the dull, small world she inhabited, masterfully evoked by writers such as Patricia Wentworth and Sheila Radley (a personal favorite), lies buried under a gooey avalanche of theme mysteries (cookies, cats, crafts — take your pick). But just when it seemed that any sleuthing heroine must be either a perky quilter or a tattooed avenger, along comes Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope.

Hardly genteel, Vera is nonetheless a reassuring sight to readers of Ann Cleeves's Silent Voices, if not to those under the DI's scrutiny. "When he saw her approaching, she noticed the surprise and disappointment on his face. Perhaps he'd been hoping for Helen Mirren," Vera observes of one encounter. An earlier interview begins the same way. "She was confused, Vera could tell," we read of snooty Mrs. Eliot, " The car Vera was driving was large, new, and rather expensive. One of the perks of her rank. Mrs. Eliot would consider it the sort of car to be driven by a successful man. Yet Vera was large and shambolic, with bare legs and blotchy skin?.. Vera looked poor."

Like Reginald Hill's beloved protagonist Andy Dalziel, Vera is cunning and irreverent. "God," she thinks, listening to the outpourings of one witness, "what self-indulgent drivel. I'd rather spend time with an honest criminal any day than with this introspective woman." Her manner with interviewees can be indelicate. "Don't piss me about," she wearily advises a recalcitrant householder. "I'm not in the mood-let me in so that I can take the weight off my legs."

Vera would not be caught dead in a gym, but that is where we meet her in Silent Voices and where she discovers the first murder victim. (Cleeves enjoys these little ironies). Jenny Lister, a social worker, has been strangled, and at first no explanation can be found in Lister's supremely organized life. There are, however, some odd coincidences. An ex-subordinate of Lister's, Connie Masters, who was at the center of a child drowning case, recently moved, unwittingly, to Lister's Northumberland village. Masters's neighbor, Mrs. Eliot, lost a child to drowning decades earlier. And Lister's daughter is engaged to Eliot's remaining son.

The murder investigation uncovers further human connections that, in Cleeves's hands, seem natural rather than far-fetched; Northumberland is, she reminds us, England's least populated county. Plain descriptions vividly evoke the modest region and its inhabitants, and Cleeves's economical style freshens even well- worn scenes such as police briefings and interrogations. Plot twists are few and satisfying. When a second murder, for example, suggests that the past may not hold the key to Lister's death, Vera begins to detect a new shape forming. "Lying in the bed she'd slept in as a child," Cleeves writes of the single woman in her dead father's farmhouse, "...images and ideas floated into her head and then fluttered away from her, like the charred tatters of paper blowing from a bonfire." Those tatters, of course, hold the answer and Cleeves pieces them neatly together. Vera, by contrast, remains gloriously unresolved in Cleeves's subtle portrait. "They sat on the two low chairs, their feet to the fire," she writes of the DI and Joe Ashworth, her young sergeant. "Vera thought this was as happy as she would ever get." There is no need to say more.

Anna Mundow, a longtime contributor to The Irish Times and The Boston Globe, has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250033581
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Series: Vera Stanhope Series , #4
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 491,714
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

ANN CLEEVES has been the reader-in-residence for the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, and was twice shortlisted for the Dagger Award before winning the first Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for Raven Black, the first in the Jimmy Perez series which also includes White Nights, Red Bones, and Blue Lightning. The television show Vera is based on the Vera Stanhope series. Ann Cleeves lives in Yorkshire, England.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    Great Writing

    I wish all of Ann Cleeves's books were available on the Nook. I've ennjoyed the Vera series as much as her Shetland Island books. Cleeves is up there with James, Rendell, and Dexter.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2014

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