A new Vera Stanhope mystery is here!
After a bonding exercise/trip away in high school, a group of friends meet every five years on the island where the retreat was held, and where one of their number died in an accident. Now fifty years have past and the group are in their late 60’s, meeting once again, when one of them commits suicide. With recent revelations about his past indiscretions and the fact that he didn’t leave a note behind, Vera thinks it may be a case of murder, and long buried secrets.
This is the tenth novel in the Vera Stanhope mystery series, which has also been adapted into a successful TV series. I reviewed the previous novel, The Heron’s Cry HERE. If this is your first introduction to these books, they are set in Northumberland in the UK, and are police procedural style stories, helmed by the detective, Vera Stanhope, whose father was neglectful and dishonest and therefore disowned by his wealthy family, who still life in the area. Vera is a plump, sometimes motherly or frumpy presence, who startles people by being as sharp as a knife. She’s an excellent character.
I really liked the atmosphere in this book. The case takes place on an island that gets cut off when the tide rises, which adds a little salt spray and claustrophobia to the story. The friendship of the group has a nice dynamic to it. They’re all different, unlikely friends, but the bonds feel complex and real. It’s easy to imagine there might be decades of secrets and competitive feelings amongst them, and that was really fun. I kept wondering which things were clues and what we were going to find out. The book deftly hints in one direction, and then goes in another, which I love. I hate when I guess the answer to the mystery too early.
Also, this book gets extra points from me because the crime takes place amongst a group of older, perhaps even elderly people. So often in books we don’t get characters of this age group and when we do, they’re so dull and often made to look foolish and grotesque. These characters are more real. They have lives and relationships, history and feelings. It was so refreshing.
I enjoyed this so much and read it so quickly because I didn’t want to put it down. Vera books are always so good, from the strong characters and the interesting scenarios and mystery plotting, to the cold Northumberland setting. And this is is a great tenth book in the series. Highly recommended.
Read it If: you don’t have to have read the previous books in this series, so if you’re looking for a good mystery, you’ll like this, or if you’re already a fan of the series, you’ll want to get your hands on this one.
Thank you to the publisher for the ARC of this book for review.