The Seagull by Ann Cleeves
The woman could see the full sweep of the bay despite the dark and the absence of streetlights where she stood. Sometimes it felt as if her whole life had been spent in the half-light; in her dreams, she was moonlit, neon-lit or she floated through the first gleam of dawn. Night was still the time when she felt most awake.
She was waiting for footsteps, for the approach of the person she'd arranged to meet. In the far distance, she caught the noise of the town: cheap music and alcohol-fueled high-pitched laughter. It might be Sunday night but people were still partying, spilling out of the bars and clubs, lingering on the pavements because this was June and the weather was beautiful, sultry and still. The funfair at Spanish City was closed for the day, and quiet. She could see the silhouettes of the rides, marked by strings of coloured bulbs, gaudy in full sunlight, entrancing now. The full moon shone white on the Dome, on the tower of the lighthouse behind her, and on the seductive Art Deco curves of The Seagull. If only you knew, she thought, you sophisticated customers in your dinner jackets and glittering dresses, sitting on the terrace drinking cocktails and champagne. If only you knew what really goes on there.
This book brings me up to date with the Vera Stanhope series - in print anyway. I still need to go back and read The Glass Room (which is coming out in the US on April 24th). It's always kind of confusing when books that are already available in the UK are released here later. Anyway, I enjoyed The Seagull very much. Again, Janine Birkett provided the narration. Vera has been assigned (not at her instigation) to visit a local prison and give a talk. While there, she meets up with a former policeman that she helped convict and who also was a friend of Hector, her father. Vera really doesn't like 'bent' cops. And she knows that Hector and his 'gang of four' were up to no good. John Brace, the former cop, wants her help. He has a daughter that he wants Vera to check on. If she does this, he will give her information about another of the 'gang' who went missing years ago. He says Robbie Marshall is dead and he knows where his body is.
Vera gets involved in the case and comes to know and feel compassion for Brace's daughter and her children. She wonders if she would have been a good mother. She remembers, not so fondly, meeting her father's friends. Another body is discovered and then things really get rolling. It all concerns a bar and restaurant called The Seagull, the people who owned it and the people who worked there. What was actually going on at The Seagull? And who is the shadowy fourth member of the group, The Prof. Vera and her team dig in and try to find the answers. And, of course, they do find them, though not perhaps exactly as they predicted. Will be looking forward to the next book in this series. And now, to watch the TV show!
A visit to her local prison brings DI Vera Stanhope face to face with an old enemy: former detective superintendent, and now inmate, John Brace. Brace was convicted of corruption and involvement in the death of a gamekeeper – and Vera played a key part in his downfall.
Now, Brace promises Vera information about the disappearance of Robbie Marshall, a notorious wheeler-dealer who disappeared in the mid-nineties, if she will look out for his daughter and grandchildren. He tells her that Marshall is dead, and that his body is buried close to St Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. However, when a search team investigates, officers find not one skeleton, but two.
This cold case case takes Vera back in time, and very close to home, as Brace and Marshall, along with a mysterious stranger known only as ‘the Prof’, were close friends of Hector, her father. Together, they were the 'Gang of Four’, regulars at a glamorous nightclub called The Seagull. Hector had been one of the last people to see Marshall alive. As the past begins to collide dangerously with the present, Vera confronts her prejudices and unwanted memories to dig out the truth . . .