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The Long Call by Ann Cleeves - Review

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

My friend Laura bought me this book for my birthday. She and I often buy each other books, and I think I got four from her over Christmas and my birthday. She really likes Ann Cleeves' books, especially the Vera books, but I've never read too many of them. So I was glad to receive this, to give me a chance to read something else by her. This is the first in a new series, starring DI Matthew Venn. He lives in North Devon with his husband Jonathan. Matthew is from the area, but was brought up in a religious sect in the area, which he left aged around seventeen, and he hasn't returned since. But at the beginning of the book, he and Jonathan have lived on the coast for a little while, and Matthew's dad has just died. He knows he won't be welcome at the funeral, but he does turn up to watch from outside. 

A man called Simon is found murdered on the beach. He was living in a house with two young women, one of whom is the artist in residence at a place called the Woodyard. It does many things, but it has a facility for adults with learning disabilities within in. Jonathan is also the manager there. 

It turns out Simon had a troubled past and had recently been taking the bus out to the coast near where he was found dead, and had befriended one of the service users, a woman called Lucy. She has Down's Syndrome so can't always remember what exactly happened, but her dad is very concerned. Then another service user goes missing, and Matthew thinks the two cases are linked.

I liked Matthew as a cop, although he's a little uptight. I hope we see him soften a little over the next books in the series. We also get narrative from Jen, one of his detectives. I liked her a lot. There are glimpses into the religious sect that Matthew grew up in, and into Jen's abusive marriage, which she has left. I hope these two things are delved into more in the next books. 

I'm giving this three and a half out of five. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I felt it needed a better copy edit. There was some wishy washy stuff in the beginning where the police couldn't seem to figure out how Simon would have known Lucy when the answer was obvious, and then at the end there were a couple of mistakes that annoyed me. But! It was good, and the setting was excellent, so there we go. 

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