Millions will be familiar with Brenda Blethyn’s portrayal of Vera in the television series of the same name but Cleeves’ engaging prose provides a much deeper, subtler insight into an intriguing and likeable character.
Vera is faced with the distasteful task of visiting a corrupt policeman in prison and discovering the whereabouts of the body of slippery wheeler-dealer Robbie Marshall, who mysteriously vanished in the 1990s.
But when police search a rocky area by St Mary’s Island, they find not one skeleton but two, doubling the workload of the irrepressible detective with a penchant for bottles of Wylam beer.
The threads lead back to an upmarket nightclub called The Seagull where all sorts of skulduggery took place beneath a veneer of glamour and sophistication.
Cleeves vividly captures the richness of life in Tyne and Wear and makes you
long to visit The Seagull with its rogues’ gallery of regulars.
At the same time a question mark hangs over the relationship between Vera’s late father Hector and John Brace, a corrupt detective superintendent whose career Vera helped to end.
Amid an atmosphere of brooding, simmering tension, Hector is linked to an illegal trade in birds’ eggs and raptors and the reader fears that poor Vera is about to uncover some disturbing revelations about her father.
Readers will enjoy Vera’s relentless quest for the truth in this astutely observed, atmospheric crime novel.