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The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves - Review

Friday, April 8, 2022


This book is the sequel to The Long Call which I read last February. That one is the first in a new series by Ann Cleeves, about DI Matthew Venn and set in north Devon around Barnstaple. It was also made into an ITV series last year, which I watched. I liked the first one and enjoyed the TV show, so when I saw this book for sale on Barnsley market I bought it immediately. I think I mentioned the stall - if I take this one back I'll get half off the next one. This is ideal for crime books like this for me. I don't reread them and am not bothered about keeping them, so I'll probably get Lee to swap it for me at one point when he goes into town. There's plenty of the Vera books I haven't read. 

I am glad Cleeves has written a sequel to the first one - I actually think it's lots better than the first one. It felt like she had settled into Matthew Venn a bit more, which I liked. I also really like his DC, Jen, and her inner thoughts are always welcome chapters to read. 

So in this book, Jen is at a party that her friend Cynthia is throwing when a man called Nigel wants to speak to her. Jen is a bit drunk so arranges to speak to Nigel soon. However, she's awoken the next morning by Matthew calling her to say there's been a murder. She heads over to a big house called Westacombe. It's owned by a man called Frank. He has two lodgers in the house, Wesley and Eve, who is a glass maker. A relative of Frank's and her family live in a cottage on site and run the farm. 

Eve is Nigel's daughter and she has found him dead in her workshop on the site. He has been murdered with a piece of glass from one of Eve's pieces. Nigel had been a doctor but when his wife was ill, had taken a job on some kind of advisory panel where patients could complain about treatment received. Matthew and Jen think this was why he wanted to speak to Jen, so they start to investigate people he was dealing with. 

Matthew's mother visits him and Jonathan, which I'd have liked to see more of, but I get that there are constraints to books. Matthew was brought up in a religious sect which he left as a teenager and was estranged from his parents, and at the beginning of the first book his dad has died, but he does speak to his mother. I felt like I understood Matthew a bit more here. I will say that I feel like Jonathan remains a bit of a one dimensional character; he's there as Matthew's husband but you never get a full sense of who he is as a person. 

I also need to trigger warn for suicide and discussion of suicide. This is one of my main triggers (I lost my dad to suicide) and it was quite a lot for me. There's discussion of suicide methods and a couple of characters are very unsympathetic towards the issue. I did enjoy the book and this won't put me off reading any more in this series, but by the end I was a bit like, well I'm glad that's over and I don't have to read anything else about suicide for a while. Your mileage may vary on this so be careful if this is a trigger for you. 

I did really like this though, I'm giving it four out of five! 


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