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
VERA All Wrapped Up
With episode 4, The Blanket Mire, first broadcast in the UK on Sunday April 9th, the seventh series of ITV's VERA, starring multi-award-winning Brenda Blethyn, as Ann Cleeves's unorthodox but brilliant DCI Vera Stanhope, came to an end. If you missed this original crime drama, in which surveyors out on the Northumberland moors make a shocking discovery - the body of a young woman buried beneath the soil - you can still watch it on the ITVhub - but hurry, because time is running out! It's already too late to catch epiusode 1, Natural Selection, first broadcast on Sunday 19th March, in which Vera investigates when the body of a wildlife ranger found on a remote island off the coast of Northumberland; and episode 2, Dark Angel, broadcast on Sunday 26th March, when the body of a drug addict found face-down in a river, forces Vera to unearth a case from the past - and some secrets within her team. But there's just time to catch episode 3, Broken Promise, concerns the death of a promising university student, who falls from an abandoned building in suspicious circumstances: was it suicide? or murder? (watch episode 3 on the itvHub).
Or the entire series can be yours to keep and watch whenever you like: 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!).
Earlier series of the TV drama based on Ann's characters and settings have been widely broadcast (and are available of DVD for anyone who missed it! see below). VERA was nominated for an Edgar Award, for Dark Road, the first episode of series 6 (an original screenplay by Martha Hillier).
All six previous series of Vera are now available on DVD in both the UK and the US. 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 .
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.
The real Vera - read 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!
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!
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.
"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