What’s it about?
In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his estranged father’s funeral takes place. On 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 to the people and places of his past, as deadly secrets hidden at their hearts are revealed, and his new life is forced into a collision course with the world he thought he’d left behind.
Having not read any of Ann Cleeves’ novels before but very much enjoying the Vera TV series I was delighted to be sent 10 advanced copies of The Long Call to share with my book group.
I found it quite an easy book to get into although there are a lot of diverse characters to follow and being the first in a series there’s also a lot of back story to take in.
As you’d expect from such an accomplished author her writing is excellent; she certainly knows how to weave her plot and conjure a setting. The book is a police procedural and I am a fan of this style as I like to know the mechanics of an investigation and in that respect this book doesn’t disappoint, however it does feel a little sluggish in places with the pace not really picking up until the last few chapters.
Although I enjoyed the book and will look forward to watching the tv adaptation I do think that the plot could have been written for any of Ann Cleeves’ characters; the plot would have worked just as well with either Shetland or Vera as lead detective which makes me wonder if this manuscript was just hanging around in a drawer waiting for a new main character to emerge from the depths of Ann Cleeves’ mind.
Overall the group felt it to be an okay and enjoyable read although not without flaws. Whilst I wouldn’t want to dwell on those too much I feel it only fair to pass on some of their thoughts:
“Read The Long Call and felt it was OK. It didn’t really grip me and felt main character, Matthew Venn was quite dull. No idea why he had to be gay – felt it was a ploy to meet ‘inclusion’ policies to attract a TV adaptation (which it obviously was)! Especially with the addition of ‘learning disabled’ characters. I just hope the TV series actually casts these characters from the gay and learning disabled communities.”
“As a whole I felt that the book was setting the scene for a series as it didn’t feel like a standalone thriller with a beginning, a middle and an end. The first fifty pages contained descriptions of a gay couple, suicide, homelessness, disabled adults, domestic violence, a hippy, a born again Christian plus a vicar. Every single person is a problem waiting to be figured out. Perhaps it would have been better to leave some description to books 2 or 3? The ending was also quite abrupt and a bit flat.”
Small print for info
Source: Publisher – ARC
No of pages: 384