In North Devon in a place where two rivers meet for their final run to the sea, Matthew Venn stands outside the church where his estranged father's funeral is taking place. Then his phone rings. A body has been found on a nearby beach, a man, stabbed to death, with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck.
This investigation will prove to Venn that the past often refuses to be left behind. As he and his team hunt for a killer, Matthew is taken back to the people and places of his youth, and deadly secrets are slowly revealed.
For those of you still in mourning for the ending of Ann Cleeves' Shetland series, you have cause to rejoice. This new Two Rivers series featuring Matthew Venn has a powerhouse beginning in The Long Call, and I'm looking forward to more.
Cleeves has chosen another atmospheric setting for her new series, the coastal area of North Devon. This land of water and sky and "...the cry of the herring gull, the sound naturalists named the long call, the cry which always sounded to him like an inarticulate howl of pain" is woven through every inch of the story until it is a character in and of itself.
Matthew Venn is the sort of insightful, compassionate main character that readers should love. Raised by strict evangelical Christians, Venn is a quiet man. Buttoned down. Very self-contained. He's also more than brave enough to stand up for himself and his beliefs, leaving that religious sect and eventually becoming a policeman and marrying Jonathan, an outgoing, caring man who manages the Woodyard, a vital part of the community of Barnstaple. Their chalk-and-cheese personality traits are just what each of them needs to keep themselves on an even keel. One more thing about Matthew Venn? He's so good at listening that he reminds me a bit of Jimmy Perez, you Shetland fans.
Venn also has an interesting team to work with. Constable Ross May is the Detective Chief Inspector's golden boy, and everyone knows that they have to be careful of what they say around him. May is also young and impetuous and has a lot to learn. On the other hand, Venn believes Sergeant Jen Rafferty is probably the best detective he's ever worked with. Rafferty is the single mother of two who escaped an abusive husband. She has guts, spirit, loves to laugh, and can be a lot of fun... when she's not investigating a murder.
Although I didn't find either the crimes or those who committed them to be very surprising, I didn't care. As an introduction to a new series, The Long Call is superb. Ann Cleeves weaves spells when she tells a story. Now all I have to do is wait to be trapped willingly in the web of the next one.
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
Minotaur Books © 2019
eBook, 382 pages
Police Procedural, #1 Two Rivers mystery
Source: Net Galley