More about The Moth Catcher
More about Harbour Street
More about Silent Voices
More about The Glass Room
More about The Crow Trap
More about Telling Tales
More about Hidden Depths
Vera Stanhope Longlisted for Award
The latest adventure of DI Vera Stanhope, Ann Cleeves's brilliant but unglamorous detective, has been longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2015. The Moth Catcher, now available in paperback, takes Vera 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 formed the basis for an episode of the major ITV series VERA. At the 2015 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, the series 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 plays Vera in the television drama, to accept the award from Lee Child.
There are 18 titles in all on the longlist, all of them published in paperback in the qualifying period. The Moth Catcher faces some tough competition from established stars like Ian Rankin and J.k. Rowling - or rather, her crime writing alter ego Robert Galbraith. There are several dark horses, too, authors whose first novel caught the eye of the academy of professionals from the world of crime writing who drew up the list.
The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, who will take into account the votes of members of the public (voting opens on 1 July). Ann says "Of course I'm delighted that The Moth Catcher has been long listed for the Theakston's, and I hope all VERA fans will support it when voting opens."
"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
In a new interview in The Independent, Ann talks about where she found the initial ideas for The Moth Catcher - and what crime novels she enjoys - and doesn't enjoy! - reading.
Vera in the US
Harbour Street, the sixth Vera Stanhope book, which formed the basis of the opening episode of VERA series four, is now available in the US, published by Minotaur Books on December 1, 2015. It received a starred review in the Library Journal's list of seasonal titles, with the verdict: "Cleeves offers up evocative settings and flawed characters with depth, making her mysteries wonderfully addictive. Her latest is no exception."
Another starred review, this time in Publishers' Weekly agreed: "Cleeves expertly handles the interplay among Vera - outsized both in stature and personality - her staff, and the villagers... You don't have to be a fan of the TV show...to enjoy this top-notch police procedural."
Harbour Street 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.
The Guardian has published Ann's 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!
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.
Vera - the tv series
As series 6 of ITV's VERA came to an end, Brenda Blethyn (who so brilliantly plays the part of DCI Vera Stanhope) was at the "Geordie Oscars", the regional Royal Television Society awards, to collect the big budget drama award for series 5 - and there's a promise that the popular detective (based on the novels by Ann Cleeves) will be back next year for a seventh series. If you missed it - or want to enjoy it again - VERA series 6 is now available on DVD from Amazon UK (region 2 only at the moment). (And see below for information about previous series on DVD).
Five past series of Vera, starring Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope, are now available on DVD in both the UK and the US, with the UK release of series 6 coming soon. 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).
VERA is filmed at locations from across Northumberland and Tyneside: if the scenery gives you an urge to visit Northumberland, here's a guide to some key locations - and you can read what Ann has to say about the county here.
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