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VERA latest: Harbour Street

Vera Stanhope book six is now available in paperback. Harbour Street formed the basis of the opening episode of VERA series four, and concerns the mysterious death of pensioner Margaret Krukowksi on a busy Newcastle Metro train at the height of rush hour. It leads Vera to a quiet street in a run down seaside town, where she discovers a tight knit community living in the shadow of a long-held, explosive secret. There's a key rôle for Joe, too, as he struggles to maintain a professional distance when his daughter is named as key witness in the case.

A review of Harbour Street was the most visited by readers of the Crime Fiction Lover website, making it their Favourite Crime Novel of 2014.

More about Harbour Street.

There are six Vera Stanhope books, all still in print: click the covers (right) to learn more. Ann's next book will be another Vera Stanhope mystery (due in September 2015).

Ann Cleeves and Brenda Blethyn at the launch of 'Silent Voices'

Ann Cleeves and Brenda Blethyn at the launch of Silent Voices

Vera in the US: Silent Voices

Ann Cleeves's unglamourous but brilliant detective, DI Vera Stanhope, made her long-awaited debut in US bookshops in May 2013, when Minotaur Books published Silent Voices, delighting the many viewers who have enjoyed the story in Gaby Chiappe's sensitive adaptation of book for the hit TV series VERA; it is now also available in paperback.

Silent Voices finds Vera Stanhope in an unlikely setting - at a health club; but she has her reasons, and they are nothing to do with her work. So when Vera finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she's uncovered a simple death from natural causes. But a closer inspection reveals ligature marks around the victim's throat - death is never that simple.

More about Silent Voices.

Brenda Blethyn, who plays Ann Cleeves' detective Vera Stanhope in the hit television drama series, told The Express how much she loves playing her clever but unglamorous character: "I love Vera. I'd like to have her as a mate. I'd love to go and visit her at home. What would we do? I'd ask her where the whisky was and we'd go for a long walk together along the shore."

Author Ann Cleeves is delighted to have Brenda Blethyn playing the part of Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope: "She absolutely captures the spirit of the character," she says. &Now, I hear her voice when I'm writing dialogue for the books. She has that wit, humour and a touch of cruelty. I don't see Brenda so much because my vision of Vera is uglier than Brenda, even dressed-down Brenda, but I do hear Brenda's voice in my head."

Writing on the Book Oxygen website, N.J. Cooper said "There is no shirking of the miseries and cruelties of real life in this series, but Cleeves displays them without resorting to any graphic violence. She has always rendered the landscape and inhabitants of the North East of England with a quiet skill but there is a sense of expansion in the writing of Harbour Street and a confidence that make it even more appealing than its predecessors."

"I do love Vera!"

Val McDermid

"If you like the TV series, you're in for a treat - because the atmospheric but realistic books are even better."

Leicester Mercury

And if you missed it...

VERA Series 4 - the DVD

Vera won best drama in the regional Royal Television Society Awards in March 2014 - and followed that with a hugely popular fourth series. A fifth series is now in preparation, but meanwhile all four series are available on DVD: the first three in both Region 1 (USA and Canada) and Region 2 (UK and Europe) formats - so you can watch at home wherever you are -and Series 4 (released on DVD on May 19th), initially for Region 2 only. Order any of these from Amazon, using the links below, or look out for them in the shops!

VERA is filmed at locations from across Northumberland and Tyneside: if the scenery gives you an urge to visit Northumberland, read what Ann has to say about the county. Or read an interview in the Sunday Sun for more background about Vera.

Despite Vera's continuing - and growing - success, Ann Cleeves told Shots Magazine that The Crow Trap (the first Vera Stanhope novel) was originally intended as a standalone novel. But "I liked Vera Stanhope so much that I brought her back, first in Telling Tales and now in Hidden Depths. She developed because I was so cross with even feminist writers writing female central characters who were young, fit and beautiful. Vera isn't any of those things. She's overweight and middle-aged." - "more Nero Wolfe than V I Warshawski", as Jake Kerridge put it in The Telegraph!

Read an interview with Ann Cleeves in the Edinburgh Evening News about Vera Stanhope.

"... one of the most appealing fictional detectives to emerge since Andy Dalziel got into his stride..."

Martin Edwards, Spinetingler Magazine

"... although she is lonely, obsessed with her job and over fond of a beer, Vera is one of the few fictional detectives who seems not only like a real person, but one capable of conducting a murder enquiry. Ann Cleeves brings the same skill to all her characterisations in this highly impressive story."

Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph

Vera's Facebook pageYou can also keep up with the show through its page on Facebook!

Vera in brief

Best Eaten Cold, the new Murder Squad anthology

Ann Cleeves has revealed something of Vera's past in two short stories. The Habit of Silence, one of Ann's contributions to Best Eaten Cold, the second anthology of stories from Ann and her colleagues in the Murder Squad writers' group, reveals something more about Vera Stanhope, the woman she is now and the past that made her. Another short story, Hector's Other Woman, was first published in Guilty Consciences, the new anthology from the prestigious Crime Writers' Association, and is now reissued in Ann's short story collection, Offshore.

Best Eaten Cold is now available from the publisher, The History Press and there is a nifty preview of the book on their website too.

Vera's many admirers find more treats on Ann's author page on the Pan Macmillan site: two short stories to download - featuring competition winners Maxine and Kevin!

Read more about these and all Ann Cleeves's short stories.