The Seagull: A New Mystery for Vera
Coming in September, the next book by award winning crime writer Ann Cleeves features her unorthodox but brilliant detective DCI Vera Stanhope. The Seagull is the eighth case for Vera, and is the first of Ann's books to be published simultaneously in the US (by Pan MacMillan) and in the US (by Minotaur Books).
A visit to her local prison brings Vera Stanhope with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was a close friend of Hector, her father; then he was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper - and Vera played a part in his downfall. Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, his body is buried close to St Mary's Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.
The Seagull is Ann Cleeves' searing new novel, about corruption deep in the heart of a community, and about fragile, and fracturing, family relationships.
Vera is already a hit in both the UK and the US - and beyond! The TV series based on Ann's characters and settings has been widely broadcast (and is available of DVD for anyone who missed it!). In the US, VERA was nominated for an Edgar Award, for Dark Road, the first episode of series 6 (an original screenplay by Martha Hillier). Now it's easier than ever for US readers to catch up with the full story of Vera: Minotaur Books are, for the first time, going back to the beginning of the story, and publishing US editions of all Ann Cleeves' 'Vera' novels at the rate of two books a year. Look out for Vera's first appearance, in The Crow Trap, available now (and Telling Tales follows in August).
All about Vera, the TV series and the books.
Ann Cleeves Wins Crime Writers' Top Award
The Crime Writers' Association (CWA) has announced that the CWA Diamond Dagger, the highest honour in British crime writing, will this year be awarded to Ann Cleeves. The Dagger award recognises authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre.
Martin Edwards, Chair of the CWA, said: "Ann Cleeves is internationally renowned as the author of the series on which the very popular TV programmes VERA and Shetland are based. But long before her television success, she worked hard writing hugely enjoyable crime novels and short stories. As well as publishing thirty books, she has been a passionate and effective advocate for libraries, while her generosity towards fellow crime writers as well as readers means that this news is sure to be widely welcomed."
Ann (pictured, right, photographed by Micha Theiner) says: "It's a huge honour to be recognized by my peers, the crime-writers whose books, friendship and support I've enjoyed for more than thirty years. I am privileged to have had such a happy career and I will always be grateful for the support of booksellers and forever indebted to the passion and expertise of librarians, without whom I wouldn't still be writing today."
Ann will be presented with the CWA Diamond Dagger at the CWA's Dagger Awards ceremony in London on 26 October.
Meanwhile, Ann's latest novel, the seventh in her award winning series of Shetland mysteries, is among the contenders for an award of its own. Cold Earth has been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize (formerly the Scottish Crime Book of the Year).
Cold Earth is now available in the US, and out in the UK in paperback. It marks not only the continuation of a popular and much-praised series, but also Ann's thirtieth book in 30 years! The story opens as Jimmy Perez attends the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait: but torrential rain triggers a landslide that reveals a totally unexpected body that of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. Her identity is a mystery Jimmy becomes obsessed with solving: perhaps it can help the dark-haired Fair Islander resolve some mysteries of his own.
Mark Lawson chose Cold Earth as one of his best crime books of the year, and called Ann "the best living evoker of landscape".
"One of the most memorable entries in the series."
Barry Forshaw, FT
Read what Ann told The Sydney Morning Herald about Cold Earth.
TV's Shetland crime drama carried off two Scottish Baftas: when the winners of the 2016 awards were revealed, Shetland took the prize in two of the four categories for which it was in the running. Shetland itself won best television drama, and Douglas Henshall, who plays detective inspector Jimmy Perez, was named best television actor. Director Jan Matthys (best director film/television) and Gaby Chiappe (best writer film/television) were also nominated. Congratulations to all concerned!
Filming has now started on a fourth series of BBC One's acclaimed drama, Shetland, based on the characters and setting on Ann Cleeves's award-winning novels. The announcement confirms that Douglas Henshall will return as DI Jimmy Perez, with Alison O'Donnell and Shetlander Steven Robertson as his fellow-officers, plus Mark Bonnar and Julie Graham alongside new faces, filming on location in Shetland, Glasgow and Norway. This new series is a single original story told in six episodes, in which Perez must deal with murders from the past and present with unsettling similarities.
Ann's TV Double
Award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves has the distinction - among others! - of having inspired not one but two hit crime dramas showing on TV. Her recent trip to the US coincided with all three of the previous series of the BBC's Shetland becoming available on Netflix - and being named by the New York Times as one of their shows of the week! Filming has now started on series 4.
Meanwhile, UK transmission of the seventh series of ITV's VERA, starring multi-award-winning Brenda Blethyn, as Ann Cleeves's unorthodox but brilliant DCI Vera Stanhope, has come to an end - but the series 7 DVD was released on Monday 17th April and is now available to order from Amazon.UK (Region 2 only, initially, so US viewers have longer to wait!).
In the Press
Ann talked to The Independent about where she found the initial ideas for The Moth Catcher - and what crime novels she enjoys - and doesn't enjoy! - reading. Meanwhile, in The Guardian she offers a short guide to Vera's Northumberland: read what she has to say about Amble, and compare her descriptions of Mardle, the setting for Harbour Street!
"I do love Vera!"
Ann Cleeves says "Good short stories have a force and a clarity which it's almost impossible to achieve in a novel. That's why I enjoy reading them. I know that each word has been chosen with care.
"I don't send post cards when I travel; I write stories instead. The three pieces in the CWA anthologies bring back vivid memories of Tanzania, Finland and Alaska. Raven Black was originally conceived as another of those holiday snap stories."
In The Starlings and Other Stories, Ann has edited a collection of twelve short stories which are literally, if not snapshots, at least inspired by photographs. She has invited each of her fellow members of Murder Squad to bring in an accomplice, and write a short story inspired by the dramatic photography of Pembrokeshire-based author David Wilson. Ann's own contribution is the title story, The Starlings, featuring DI Vera Stanhope.
Read more about The Starlings and other short stories by Ann Cleeves.
Pan MacMillan's Bello imprint hunts down lost classics, and uses modern digital technology to make them available to readers as eBooks or print-on-demand paperbacks: over the summer they have quietly been releasing two previous series of detective novels by Ann Cleeves. The 'Inspector Ramsay' books feature a police officer who is like Ann's (and TV's) Vera Stanhope in being based in England's northernmost county, Northumberland - though unlike her in many other ways. Looking even further back, to the work of a very young writer, you can also now read the George & Molly books, the adventures of amateur sleuth George Palmer-Jones, an elderly birdwatcher - and his wife, Molly. (Or you might want to read what Ann would like to say to that younger self).
Two standalone novels are back in the bookshops in new paperback editions: The Sleeping and the Dead is a vivid psychological suspense novel the discovery of a body in the lake forces prison officer Hannah Morton to confront her past self; in Burial of Ghosts a holiday romance changes Lizzie's life forever.
In true Agatha Christie style, Cleeves once again pulls the wool over our eyes with cunning and conviction
A most satisfying mystery set in an isolated and intriguing location