The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves
Vera Stanhope climbed out of Hector's ancient Land Rover and felt the inevitable strain on her knees. Hector's Land Rover. Her father had been dead for years, but still she thought of the vehicle as his. She stopped for a moment to look down the valley at the view. Another thing her father had gifted her: this house. Sod all else, she thought, maybe she should forgive him because of this. It was October and the light was going. A smell of wood-smoke and ice. Most of the trees were already bare and the whooper swans had come back to the lough.
She'd stopped at the supermarket outside Kimmerston on her way home from work and there were carrier bags piled on the passenger seat. She took a guilty look round to make sure the coast was clear. Her eco-warrior neighbours despised the use of plastic bags, and after a day at the office she couldn't face a right-on lecture about saving the planet. But there was no one in the yard next door. A couple of hens poked around a weed patch. No sound, and if Jack was working in the barn there'd be loud rock music. Or howling blues. She lifted the bags out of the Land Rover, then set them down on her doorstep to search for her keys.
But the door was already open.
I finally was able to complete my reading of all the Vera Stanhope books that have been published so far. The Glass Room recently came out on audio and I very quickly picked it up and began to listen. It was narrated wonderfully by Charlie Hardwick. This is #5 in the series and I skipped this one earlier. I don't usually like reading a series out of order, but Ann Cleeves does a good job of making each book stand on its own. Vera has a 'hippie' couple who are her neighbors and sort of friends. The woman goes missing and Vera finds her at a country house - The Writer's House - where she has gone to take an intensive course on composing crime fiction. Unhappily, someone has been killed. Fortunately, Vera is on the spot to take the investigation. Also, Vera's neighbor has been seen running away with a knife in her hand. Is there a conflict of interest because Vera knows the main suspect? Not according to her, but Joe Ashworth, her DS, isn't so sure. A sort of 'locked room' mystery set in the country with characters that could be right out of a game of Clue - plus DI Vera Stanhope - what more could a reader want?
I really liked this crime novel and think that Ann Cleeves has great talent for taking the reader through the investigation. Vera's inner thought processes are revealing and certainly humorous. She's like a referee trying to keep her team focused and on task, while putting up with some of the bickering between DS Joe Ashworth and DC Holly Clark. Vera herself is not so much a 'people' person, but she has much more compassion than she's comfortable showing most people. And she gets flashes of brilliance about crime solving. I've loved this whole series and now must wait until the next. Guess it's time for me to start reading or listening to this author's Shetland books. Bet I like those too.
DI Vera Stanhope is not one to make friends easily, but her hippy neighbors keep her well-supplied in homebrew and conversation, and somehow bonds have formed. When one of them goes missing, Vera tracks the young woman down to the Writer’s House, a country retreat where aspiring authors work on their stories. Things get complicated when a body is discovered, and Vera’s neighbor is found with a knife in her hand.
Calling in the team, Vera knows that she should hand the case over. She’s too close to the main suspect. But the investigation is too tempting, and she’s never been one to follow the rules. Somewhere there is a killer who has taken murder off the page and is making it real . . .