Published by Minotaur Books on September 3, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
The Long Call is the first book in an exciting new series from award-winning author Ann Cleeves. I’ve always heard great things about Cleeves’ writing so when I heard she had a new series coming out, I was eager to request a copy and dive right in. Well, I’m thrilled to report that everything great I’ve heard is 100% accurate. Set in the small town of North Devon, England, The Long Call grabbed my attention from the opening scene and kept me thoroughly under its spell until the very end.
The protagonist of The Long Call is a police detective named Matthew Venn, and when the story opens, he’s attending his father’s funeral but only from a distance, and he makes no contact whatsoever with any friends or family members who are in attendance. This drew me in immediately and made me want to know more about Matthew. He’s clearly an outsider in his family and community and fears that he won’t be welcome at his own father’s funeral. Within a few short paragraphs, we learn that Matthew grew up in a strict evangelical community until the day he renounced his faith and was ostracized from the Brethren. He also clearly feels a sense of guilt about everything that transpired and that he and his father didn’t make amends before his death. I loved the complexity that this whole backstory added to Matthew’s character, especially when the case he is working on forces him to go back and make contact with some of the people from the Brethren, including his mother.
What can sometimes make a crime novel a miss for me is when I don’t feel any kind of connection to the main characters, so I appreciated that Cleeves took so much effort to make Matthew someone I was immediately invested in. I also loved that in addition to what was going on with Matthew’s family and former church, we also got to see a more intimate side of him as well, as there were domestic scenes between Matthew and his husband, Jonathan. Jonathan is a great character as well, basically Matthew’s opposite in every way, so it was interesting watching the two of them interact and how their personalities complimented each other. The author allows us a glimpse into the personal lives of other members of Matthew’s team as well, particularly Detective Jen Rafferty, who is constantly plagued by guilt that she rarely sees her kids because of work. By the time I reached the end of the novel, I was fully invested in the entire team of detectives and was eager to get my hands on the next book so that I could continue my journey with them.
As I’m sure you’ve deduced by now, even though it’s a murder mystery, The Long Call is a very character driven story. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of plot to drive the story as well. The murder case itself is actually quite riveting. A man with an albatross tattoo has been found murdered on the beach and it’s up to Matthew and his team to figure out who he is, who murdered him, and why. I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’m not going to say too much about that beyond the fact that I loved that the story takes place in such a small town because it made the investigation take all kinds of awkward and potentially uncomfortable twists and turns as friends, neighbors, and even family had to be questioned and considered as possible suspects. I also loved that Cleeves had several intricate yet seemingly unrelated threads going at the same time and then masterfully had them intertwine for a surprising yet satisfying conclusion. She really kept me guessing as to who the murderer was all the way until the closing pages.
If a small town setting, a well drawn cast of characters, and a twisty murder mystery sound like they’re up your alley, I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of Ann Cleeves’ The Long Call. It’s an immensely satisfying read.
For the first time in 20 years, Ann Cleeves—international bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—embarks on a gripping new series.
In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.
Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.
An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers.