First Line: Vera Stanhope climbed out of Hector's ancient Land Rover and felt the inevitable strain on her knees.
Even though she tends to be a solitary person, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope has made friends with her free-spirited neighbors. After all, they keep her supplied with conversation and bottles of home brew. But talk and ale only go so far, and she doesn't want to become bosom pals. That may be about to change when neighbor Jack tells Vera that Joanna is missing. Against her better judgement and her inclination, she agrees to track the woman down.
She finds Joanna at the Writer's House, a country retreat on the Northumberland coast where aspiring authors attend lectures and work on their books-- and that's not all she finds. Someone is dead, and Joanna has been found with a knife in her hand. The crafty D. I. manages to hold on to the case, even though she is a friend of the prime suspect, but she and her team can't seem to find a motive-- even when another body is found.
I have long been a fan of Ann Cleeves' writing, in particular her Shetland series and these Vera Stanhope novels. Vera is a favorite of mine. She's not young, she's definitely not pretty, and she tends to be a grouch. Her life with her eccentric father shaped her, but it does not define her. This woman has a mind like the proverbial steel trap, and not much gets past her gimlet eye.
What's new for Vera this time around is the fact that she's paying more attention to children and mothers, and she's wondering if perhaps she should've given motherhood a try herself. When a woman is childless past a certain age, it's natural to think about what if's... and Vera might even be wondering who's going to take care of her when she no longer can.
Cleeves' strengths are in evidence here: characterization, creating atmosphere, her ear for dialogue, and plotting, and I always enjoy how she includes her own interests in her books-- like the beautiful county of Northumberland, birds, and this time the world of writing and publishing. I was slightly disappointed in that I knew the identity of the killer immediately, but I think it was more the case that I instinctively distrust certain types of characters rather than any sort of weakness on the author's part.
What I am sure of is my affection for Vera Stanhope. Whenever Vera has a new case, you can be certain that I'll read all about it.
The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves
Pan Macmillan © 2012
Paperback, 374 pages
Police Procedural, #5 D.I. Vera Stanhope mystery
Source: Paperback Swap