The VERA books in order:
More about The Crow Trap
More about Telling Tales
More about Hidden Depths
More about Silent Voices
More about The Glass Room
More about Harbour Street
More about The Moth Catcher
Multi-award-winning Brenda Blethyn returns as Ann Cleeves's unorthodox but brilliant DCI Vera Stanhope, investigating more chilling crimes only she can solve. Series 7 of ITV's VERA started on Sunday 19th March, at 8.00 pm, with Natural Selection: Vera investigates when the body of a wildlife ranger is found on a remote island off the coast of Northumberland. Natural Selection is still available to watch on the itvHub - and don't miss episode 2, Dark Angel, on Sunday 26th March.
The TV series based on Ann's characters and settings has been widely broadcast (and is available of DVD for anyone who missed it! see below). Ann was delighted to learn that VERA has been nominated for an Edgar Award. Dark Road, the first episode of series 6, is an original screenplay by Martha Hillier.
VERA is filmed at locations from across Northumberland and Tyneside: if the scenery gives you an urge to visit Northumberland, you can read what Ann has to say about the county here. The Guardian also published Ann's short guide to Vera's Northumberland.
Keep up with Vera - the books
It's easier than ever for US readers get to know the original Vera, too, in the seven murder mysteries by Ann Cleeves. Minotaur Books are, for the first time, going back to the beginning of Vera's story, and publishing US editions of her entire backlist 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).
At the isolated Baikie's Cottage on the North Pennines, three very different women come together to complete an environmental survey. Three women who, in some way or another, know the meaning of betrayal...
For team leader Rachael Lambert the project is the perfect opportunity to rebuild her confidence after a double-betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Botanist Anne Preece, on the other hand, sees it as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own. And then there is Grace Fulwell, a strange, uncommunicative young woman with plenty of her own secrets to hide...
When Rachael arrives at the cottage, however, she is horrified to discover the body of her friend Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide - a verdict Rachael finds impossible to accept.
Only when the next death occurs does a fourth woman enter the picture - the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, who must piece together the truth from these women's tangled lives...
In the UK, the latest case for Vera Stanhope is The Moth Catcher now available in paperback. Vera's seventh investigation takes her to Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland, where life seems perfect. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they're away. But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane into the valley - a beautiful, lonely place to die...
"The Moth Catcher is a splendid, solidly plotted modern take on a golden-age "closed circle" mystery, and Vera, as always, is a delight."
Laura Wilson, The Guardian
And coming in the autumn, The Seagull, the eighth Vera Stanhope book!
Vera in Short
Just can't get enough of Vera? If you've read all the novels, and watched all the TV dramas, have you read the short stories?
Ann's contribution to The Starlings and Other Stories (which she has also edited), is the title story, The Starlings, featuring DI Vera Stanhope. For this collection of twelve short stories, Ann invited each of her fellow members of Murder Squad writers' group to join her, with an accomplice, in writing a short story inspired by the dramatic photography of Pembrokeshire-based author David Wilson.
The Starlings and Other Stories was first published by Graffeg on 7th September 2015. You can see a preview (and place an order) on the publisher's website or order a copy from Amazon UK or from Amazon.com.
Ann has previously used short stories as an opportunity to explore Vera's past: 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, 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.
Read more about these and all Ann Cleeves's short stories.
Catch up with Vera - the tv series
At the 2015 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, ITV's VERA was the inaugural winner of the Lee Child Award for Best Loner or Detective, in the first Dead Good Reader Awards. As Programming Chair of the Festival, Ann was present - accompanied by Brenda Blethyn, who so brilliantly plays the part of DCI Vera Stanhope - to accept the award from Lee Child.
All six previous series of Vera are now available on DVD in both the UK and the US. So you can watch Vera (which won best drama in the regional Royal Television Society Awards in March 2014) as often as you like, in your own good time. Order any of them from Amazon, using the links below, or look out for them in the shops!
- Order series 1 from Amazon UK (region 2 format) or from Amazon.com (Region 1).
- Order series 2 from Amazon UK (region 2 format); or from Amazon.com (Region 1).
- Order Series 3 from Amazon.UK (region 2 format) or from Amazon.com (Region 1).
- Order Series 4 from Amazon.UK (region 2 format) or from Amazon.com (Region 1).
- Order Series 5 from Amazon UK (region 2 format) or from from Amazon.com (Region 1).
- Order Series 6 on DVD from Amazon UK - and now also available in Region 1 .
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.
Ann says: "I developed Vera because at the time there were few strong, believable female protagonists in crime fiction. I wanted someone true, real and relatable, so I created Vera Stanhope.
"She grew out of the strong spinsters I knew as a child: competent, formidable and without a trace of glamour. She's middle-aged, over-weight and if I was in trouble I'd want her on my side."
Now Ann's creation is enriched by the contribution of Brenda Blethyn, who plays the part of television's Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope: "She absolutely captures the spirit of the character," Ann 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." In a recent interview, Ann admitted that sometimes Brenda tells her things about Vera that she hadn't known herself!
"I do love Vera!"
"If you like the TV series, you're in for a treat - because the atmospheric but realistic books are even better."
"... 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