The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves

The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves

13th December 2020

I enjoy a detective who’s not another maverick with a traumatic past. Vera Stanhope is about as different and distinctive as you can get. She’s a formidable tour de force, who’s smart, unconventional, persistent and focused on people, their behaviour and their secrets. She sees the connections others may miss.

When she arrives to investigate a double murder within a small community in the countryside, her direct approach and earthy humour unsettle the respectable residents. While none of them seem to have any connection with the victims, Vera prods and probes, certain there are secrets to be unearthed.

Vera, along with her close colleagues Joe and Holly, are vividly portrayed, their characters, aspirations and vulnerabilities revealed alongside the investigation. The pace is steady as Vera peels back the layers, stripping away the veneer of respectability. The atmosphere in the community becomes tense and almost claustrophobic as she homes in on the truth, leading to a dramatic and exciting climax.

This is a story based on people rather than forensic science. It’s about looking below the surface, making connections to find the secrets and the motives people hide. It’s about a detective who drives the story with her unstoppable appetite for murder and determination to catch the killer.

Vera Stanhope may be unconventional, but she’s an absorbing and entertaining breath of fresh air.


‘This case was different from anything Vera had ever worked before. Two bodies, connected but not lying together. And nothing made her feel as alive as murder.’

Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland. 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.

DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene, with her detectives Holly and Joe. When they look round the attic of the big house – where Patrick has a flat – she finds the body of a second man. All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths – catching these beautiful, rare creatures.

Those who live in the Valley Farm development have secrets too: Annie and Sam’s daughter is due to be released from prison any day; Nigel watches, silently, every day, from his window. As Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that there may be deadly secrets trapped here . . .

The Moth Catcher by Ann Cleeves

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