The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

10th February 2021.

If you like your crime fiction gritty, violent and with plenty of action, you might find this a little slow. But if you enjoy gentle, beautifully crafted, character driven murder investigations, this story gives you time to breathe, to savour and to deliberate.

It centres on DI Matthew Venn, who returns to the community he left many years ago. His husband runs a local community centre that’s the focal point of the story. When a body’s found on a beach, not far from where they live, it’s Venn’s first major case in charge. The victim, a casual worker at the centre, is a bit of a mystery with a past that offers up some suspects and motives. Before his death, he befriended a girl with Downs Syndrome, who visited the centre.

Venn’s not your usual hard-boiled stereotype copper. He’s sensitive, self-conscious and often doubts his abilities as he struggles for traction on a case that touches the local community, from those who rely on the centre for help to those who run it.

I loved the North Devon setting, the doggedness that Venn shows, despite his doubts, and the way he slowly peels back all the secrets to get to the truth behind the killing. The relationships between the various members of the team are also fascinating as the drive for the truth tests every one of them.

This is the first in a new series and I look forward to reading the next when it is published.


In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

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