In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father's funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.
Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.
The Long Call won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel published in 2019. It was chosen by the Library Journal as one of their crime books of the year, and was longlisted for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year award.
"Evocative and gripping - an absolute triumph."
"Splendid stuff, with Cleeves' characteristic gift for locale..."
Barry Forshaw in the Financial Times
"I like Venn. He is diffident and clever, prone to melancholia (he has sad eyes), self-doubt and anger, and is scarred by the rigid religious beliefs of his estranged family. He isn't welcome at his father's funeral, but he is happily married to Jonathan, his opposite in so many ways. Cleeves writes about their domestic relationship with affectionate detail and a resounding authenticity, just as she evokes the local landscape as if it were a character in its own right. She likes things on the margins, be they gay detectives or out-of-the way places."
Debra Craine. The Times
"Cleeves has a fondness for quirky characters, several of whom show up here when Venn starts interviewing suspects. But Cleeves's true strength lies in her descriptions of the natural world, gorgeously captured in this brief description of Venn listening to 'the surf on the beach and the cry of a herring gull, the sound naturalists named the long call, the cry which always sounded to him like an inarticulate howl of pain.'"
"Fans missing detective Jimmy Perez ... will find a worthy successor in the equally complex Venn, who presides over an excellent mystery in this series kickoff."
"an emotional thriller, where lives are exploded and perceptions twisted and shattered. It is a brilliant achievement of quiet dread and explosive secrets.."
Louise Penny, B&N Reads
"Cleeves' new series is as nuanced, compassionate and compelling as her bestsellers starring two other gifted cops, Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez."
"Cleeves certainly knows how to construct a captivating, intricate plot with unexpected events that, when all is revealed, lead to a satisfying and logical conclusion."
"... All this is set against Cleeves' familiar sweeping sense of place and once again she demonstrates her unerring touch for character and her fierce grip of plot. A new detective star is born."
"The Long Call is a complex and disturbing exploration of secrets and lies, as well as the frailty of the disadvantaged and the hypocrisy of the powerful."
"...a traditional mystery of the best sort..."
The Long Call was published in the US by Minotaur Books on September 3rd 2019: it is available from Amazon.com, from B & N, or order it from your local bookstore via IndieBound (or tell them the ISBN is 978-1-2502-0444-8). It is also available as an unabridged audiobook. It is now also available in a paperback edition (ISBN: 978-1-2502-0445-5).
It was published in the UK by Macmillan on 5th September, in hardback, (ISBN: 978-1-5098-8956-3), Kindle and audio (read by Ben Aldridge) editions. The paperback edition was published on February 20th. A Large Print edition is also available.
For a taste of The Long Call, read the first chapter on the website of publisher, Pan MacMillan.
The Long Call coming from ITV
As filming begins on The Long Call, making an extraordinary three current television series for award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, details of casting are beginning to emerge. Ben Aldridge (Our Girl and Fleabag) stars as DI Matthew Venn, while Juliet Stevenson will play Matthew's mother, Dorothy, and Martin Shaw is Dennis, leader of the Brethren, the religious group from whom Matthew is estranged.
The four-part event dramatisation of The Long Call comes from Silverprint Pictures, the company that has already produced Shetland (BBC) and Vera (ITV), two of television's most popular dramas based on previous crime series by Ann Cleeves.
ITV's Head of Drama, Polly Hill, decribed the new series as a character-led, atmospheric crime drama, driven by an intriguing and flawed protagonist, Detective Inspector Matthew Venn, who has returned to live in a small community in North Devon with his husband, Jonathan. It's a place Matthew walked away from 20 years ago, after being rejected by his family. Polly Hill commented: "I'm delighted that ITV is working with Silverprint Pictures to bring another of Ann's brilliant novels to screen. It's very different to Vera, but I think audiences will take to DI Matthew Venn and this compelling story in the same way. Kelly [Jones] has written a wonderful adaptation and this promises to be a really distinctive and original new crime series."
Ben Aldridge said: "I'm delighted to be playing Matthew Venn, a brilliantly unorthodox detective who audiences will see solving a gripping and intricate case, whilst simultaneously surmounting a deeper, more personal mystery within himself. It's a poignant and complex journey of self-discovery and sexual and religious identity, which navigates the tension between pride and shame, and I feel privileged to be bringing it to ITV viewers in The Long Call."
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