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The Long Call

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A promising new series from crime author Anne Cleeves. 
Not quite as good or atmospheric as her previous series of books but probably just needs time to bed in.
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I adore all Ann Cleeves books, both the Vera and the Shetland series, in addition to the TV programmes. The Long Call is the first in a new series by this author, set in North Devon and starring Detective Matthew Venn. I enjoyed both the characters and the setting in this book. Ann Cleeves is exceptional in setting details and the reader can really imagine that they are in that particular part of the world. I found the plot slow moving at times and as with any new series, as it takes time to lay the foundations of both the setting and characters, this may affect the plot somewhat in the initial first in a series book. I look forward to reading the second and more books in this series.

My thanks to NetGalley.
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This is the first book in the new Two Rivers series.  Here the reader meets a new detective and soon the book starts of with a death and the action doesn't stop until the end.  Recommended for anyone who loves a good whodunnit.
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The Long Call begins with Detective Inspector Matthew Venn watching his father’s burial. He doesn’t go into the service. He long ago denounced the religious beliefs of his parents, was ostracised and left them to make his own way in the world.

Whilst not set on an island such as Shetland was Ann Cleeves has still achieved an intimate, claustrophobic atmosphere within this story. In part through the small geographical area in which this story is set but also through the relationships Malcolm Venn grew up with, has now forged personally, comes into contact with through work and how they become part of his investigation.

This is a captivating story which carries you along with this rather likeable new detective in solving the mystery of who killed the man on the beach, why he was killed. Each of the threads within it are cleverly drawn together. There is a dark side to this story but it is not overly graphic.

This is a wonderful beginning to a new series which has already won awards and has also been optioned for TV. I look forward to reading more and then, hopefully, at some future date seeing the adaptation.

I very much enjoyed reading The Long Call by Ann Cleeves. It has a good crime mystery and investigation at it’s heart whilst nicely setting the scene – character, place (North Devon) and some of Malcolm Venn’s back story.


With thanks to Pan Macmillan via NetGalley for an eCopy of The Long Call by Ann Cleeves. These are purely my own thoughts, for which I have received no payment.
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Having watched Vera and loved it as a TV series but have never read a book by Ann Cleeves so when the chance to read this came along I jumped at the chance. It is an excellent book totally nerve shredding and I actually liked it more that Vera and hope this is picked up as TV adaptation.
I will certainly be reading much more from Ann.
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The Long Call is a fine first entry in a new crime series by Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera and Shetland books. The lead character is DI Matthew Venn. When we first meet Venn, he is standing outside the church where his father's funeral is taking place. Venn is not welcome there, as he has left the insular Christian sect he grew up in. On the same day, a body is found on a nearby beach and Venn must set aside his feelings and start investigating the suspicious death. We will, however, be returning to the sect as it is an integral part of the North Devon community that Venn is part of. In a departure for Cleeves, Venn is both a happily married policeman, and gay. He has a lovely relationship with his husband, who is an integral part of local community. 
Cleeves really sets the scene well for future instalments. She paints the part of Devon around Barnstaple with unerring accuracy. The supporting characters are well drawn, and worthy of their own narratives.
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I love Vera, I love Jimmy and now I love Matthew (and Jonathan). A great cast of characters and just for a change one of the most interesting is the victim. The landscape is described in beautiful detail and almost becomes a character itself as in her other books. My only slight niggle was for once I thought I was going to read a crime novel without any, or very little, victimisation of women and especially vulnerable women. It did rear it's ugly head at the end which I found a little disappointing but I appreciate how essential to the plot it was. Overall a great start to a new series.
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I was really excited to see a new series (I hope!) from Ann Cleeves and thoroughly enjoyed this book. The protagonist is an introvert with an intriguing backstory which is a refreshing change. I thought the crime itself was interesting enough and served to introduce the characters and the subject matter was handled sensitively.
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The Long Call is the first book in Ann Cleeves new series, Two Rivers. We know Ann Cleeves for writing the Shetland series (starting with Raven Black - which I do own, I think) and the Vera Stanhope series (starting with The Crow Trap). Both series adapted to television (Vera on ITV and Shetland on BBC) and The Long Call has already been bought for TV adaptation before the book was published. So, a new series is both exciting and scary for Cleeves fans. 

In North Devon, where the river Taw meets the river Torridge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn is standing outside a church. It’s his father’s funeral, but he can’t attend. His family are members of a strict evangelical community, the Barum Brethren, and, when he was younger, he turned his back on the faith, his family disowned him and when he met and married a man… well, you can guess the rest...

But it’s on this day that Matthew is thrown into his first major case. A body has been found on the beach, very close to Matthew’s house. A man who was stabbed with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck. 

Slowly, Matthew and his team are pulled into the case, with connections not only to the family and  religious friends who turned their backs on Matthew but to the Woodyard Centre, a safe place for disabled and mentally impaired people and a community centre that provides counselling serves, classes, charity services. The centre is managed by Matthew’s husband, Jonathan, and Matthew can’t help but wonder if he’s far too close to the investigation to solve it.

So, this is my first Ann Cleeves’s novel and I enjoyed it far more than I expected. 

As you know if you’ve followed the Pewter Wolf for a while, I tend to like my crime novels to move at quite a pace. But this is a much slow burn of a read. Ann Cleeves makes this a slow burn so we get to know the characters, but investigating and those involved in the crime. And because it’s slower, we see how complex the characters and the case is. It’s not a simple murder, there are layers and you need the pacing to be a tad slow to let the characters and story breath. 

Matthew Venn isn’t a typical lead. He’s quiet, thoughtful, very unsure of himself as a person, husband and a Police officer, and compassionate. The two other officers - Jen Refferty and Ross May - are a nice counter point to Matthew. Jen is smart, fierce and straightforward with a heartbreaking backstory while Ross is competitive, a show-off but who needs to learn how to be a team player and patience (and Matthew, who rarely speaks ill of officers in his evening meetings, does have to scolded him). 

This book tackles some dark issues - murder, abuse of power, sexual assault, mental health, religious convictions and blind faith, among others - and we have a look at how people look and treat people with addiction or mentally impaired as one of the character witness is a woman with Down Syndrome.

This might not be for everyone and I totally get that. I listened to this via audiobook and I do think the narrator can make or break an audiobook. I’be had worse narrators, but I did find some of the character voices merged together so you have to be on the ball. Plus, with this being a slow-burn mystery, people might not like the pacing.

But this weirdly worked for me and I am now making plans to read more Ann Cleeves. Like I said earlier, I do have Raven Black on my kindle so hope to read that before the next book in this series comes out as I want to continue this series.
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Even though I’m a huge fan of the TV series Vera, this was my first Ann Cleeves book. I was lucky also that this was a first in a series. Matthew Venn is a very different creature from the stereotypical angry, messed-up, maverick cops we’ve grown used to reading about. Yet, he does have his baggage—having just moved back into his hometown with his husband, adjacent to a strict evangelical community he once shunned. The story begins with his father’s funeral, which Mathew watches from a distance, immediately catapulting us into a complex relationship between character and setting. 
Of course, there was a murder, and other tragedies, with a diverse and interesting cast of characters. There are some hints as to the responsible party, but for the most part I was left guessing. 
On the one hand, I liked how matter-of-fact his sexuality was, but on the other, I was curious about his background and how it played out around the time he decided to leave. Perhaps the later books will have more. Yes, definitely reading them!
(Review copy from NetGalley)
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My next review is as follows:-

"The Long Call (Two Rivers Series Book 1) ” written by Ann Cleeves and published in Hardback by Macmillan; Main Market edition on 5 Sept. 2019.  384 pages ISBN-13: 978-1509889563
This is the first book that I have ever read by this very gifted British author and I was absolutely absorbed by the excellent quality of it. I was totally gripped by the very exciting plot and I just could not do anything else until I had read it right through to the last page.
In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father's funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.
Now he's back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew's new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.
Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.This very exciting and sensationally well plotted creation rushes on to its final dramatic conclusion. I hope to read yet more of her exciting stories. 

I’ve never read any of this authors many books before although I have seen the TV series and I was very interested to read this new story that was set in the West country rather than the Shetlands or North England where her other books are based and I was not disappointed.  If you want to start reading an thrilling book that is exceedingly difficult to put down once started then buy this one.
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I absolutely loved #TheLongCall it had me gripped from start to finish. The storyline was great and something which will stay with me for a long time. I do hope that it becomes a television drama as I see it been a very popular series. 
I want to know more about the leading detective ( see how I'm not leaving any spoilers whatsoever here). 
The characters were a mixed bunch and I felt I got to know bits about them all. I'm already looking forward to book 2
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More  than competent,  and vastly intriguing this Cleeves novel delivers the goods .. mysterious death,  quirky characters right from beginning who seem involved.  I wish Matt, our detective were not so unedgy.. so pious about his marriage which must have been a fraught event since the it's to another male.  But outcome interesting and complex .. in some ways the people he's tracking are more gripping.  But otherwise fine and strong novel.  As usual .. I love her work.
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Maybe it’s an off day...				

Nope, 25% and I can’t go on. I know Cleeves is extremely popular and I enjoyed the only other book of hers I’ve read, the first in her Shetland series. This one feels as if it’s written by someone else, someone with considerably less skill.

Briefly, my major complaint is that this reads like a book written by an older person trying to prove her liberal credentials and sound as if she’s hip to current trends. (I’m roughly the same age as Ann Cleeves so I hope that excuses my bluntness a little. I try not to pretend I’m hip, though, as my use of the word “hip” proves.) The team is made up of a rapacious, predatory, heterosexual female, a sexist, over-ambitious, heterosexual male, and an idyllically happily married, decent, kind, faithful and loving gay man. (Is there such a word as heterophobic? I really object to it as much as I do to homophobia.) The aforesaid gay man is the son of parents who belonged to a strict Christian sect or, as Cleeves prefers to refer to them, “religious bigots” or “God-botherers”. I can’t help wondering if she would have used those terms if he was the son of strict Muslims or Jews. (Is Christianophobic a word? This actual liberal objects to it as much as I do to Islamophobia or anti-Semitism.) 

The story drags along, padded to the extreme with unnecessary nothingness. For example, I don’t need to hear about the predatory middle-aged female’s lust for men so young they could equally be termed boys. Would Cleeves expect me to empathise with a middle-aged male officer who lusted after women young enough to be termed girls? I don’t need to hear in detail about how two of the characters watch TV over breakfast – if they danced naked on the roof as the sun rose over the hills, worshipping the Great God Pan, that might merit a paragraph or two, but watching TV rates no more than a line, surely.

It probably deserves a three-star rating, but since I couldn't bring myself to read on, one-star it is. I own a couple of Cleeves’ earlier books from her previous Vera and Shetland series which I have yet to read, so I can only hope that this one is a blip in her standards – we all have off days. And after spending a couple of hours in the company of this book, this has turned into one of mine...

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Pan MacMillan.
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Thanks to netgalley for the chance to read this book.

This was my first Ann Cleeves book and the first in a new series. I love both Vera and Shetland and thought this would be along the same lines. 

The story starts off a little slow but introduces all the characters well, once I got into the book I really Enjoyed it. The twists and turns were brilliant kept me guessing til the end. 

Can’t wait for the next book.
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Introducing Mathew Venn.

A new detective series from the creator of Vera and Jimmy Perez. This story starts with Mathew at his fathers funeral, looking on from a distance when he receives a call which alerts him to the fact a body has been found on the beach near to his home. A new murder investigation begins.

The body is of a man, a homeless alcoholic whose story leads Mathew to the Woodyard an Arts and Craft community hub that also has a day centre for adults with learning difficulties and is managed by Mathew’s husband, Johnathan.

It also brings him back to the Religious sect he left as a young man and the mother who disowned him. His mother has to ask for his help as her closest friend’s daughter who has downs syndrome has gone missing on leaving the Woodyard, can this be coincidence or are the murder and disappearance connected?

Can Mathew redeem himself in his mother’s eyes? Will the investigation become a conflict of interest? Was moving back to the town of his youth with his new husband the right thing to do?

This book was slow and steady, I was not bored, but I was not gripped by it either. My first Anne Cleeves read I have enjoyed the TV adaptions of Shetland and the character development of Jimmy Perez, but I did not buy into the characters in this book the same way.

I prefer a faster-paced crime story, but I am sure fans of Shetland and Vera will come to love Mathew Venn.


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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The start of a new series and already more than likely to be televised. A character driven murder mystery novel that rolls along at a relaxed pace. Matthew Venn the lead detective is standing on the periphery at his fathers funeral as the book opens. He has been ostracised by the close religious community his parents are part of After he rejected their faith. He receives a call saying a murder victim has been found. The investigation sends ramifications rattling through the small north Devon town where this is set even threatening to affect Matthews life with his husband Jonathan..The Woodyard project where Jonathan works is deeply implicated as many of the threads take a link back to the venue. Cleeves builds excellent portrayals if the main characters in Venns police team giving an excellent cornerstone for future books
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North Devon, and a man lies dead on the beach, stabbed through the neck. Detective Inspector Matthew Venn is called from his father’s funeral to investigate, but things soon ending up much closer to home.

The Woodyard is a local community centre, run by Matthew’s husband, where various people in need come to work and socialise. The victim, Simon Walden, had been working in the kitchen, and had struck up a friendship with Lucy, a girl with Down’s Syndrome. But Walden, it seems, may have had ulterior motives for that friendship. As Venn and his team probe deeper, it seems that both Matthew’s present and his past, as a member of the religious sect, the Brethren, have combined to produce an horrific crime and its consequences.

Over the years, Ann Cleeves has produced four detective series, with the Vera Stanhope and Shetland bringing her much deserved success (although the early series are worth checking out too). With The Long Call, she has launched a new series, which looks to me like it has a lot of potential.

Venn is a likeable central character (and no, he doesn’t solve crimes by using diagrams) and while his team are a little by the book, on the surface at least, it looks to me as if there is plenty of room for them to develop over the series.

The mystery is an engrossing one, with a good number of suspects that all have their roles to play in the complex web that is the central plot. The pacing is excellent with events accelerating as the book progresses, with the final chapters leading to some very dark places and some genuine surprises being revealed. There’s one aspect of the case that I thought was… well, obvious, but was overlooked by the police characters, leading to what I thought should have been an avoidable incident.

Overall, a strong debut for this series, a tale that is unafraid to tackle some serious plot elements, and overall a very satisfying read.
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4 Stars from me

Being a long term lover of shows like Vera and Midsummer Murders, I was delighted to have the opportunity to read The Long Call by Ann Cleeves as it is the first in a new series; featuring Detective Matthew Venn and set in North Devon.

Matthew Venn is a very likeable character who lives in an idyllic cottage by the sea with his (too perfect?) partner. The Long Call features a search for a missing girl and a murder enquiry both of which seem destined to draw Matthew back into a community - and a myriad of painful memories - that he sought to leave behind.

There is a nice mix of complexity and simplicity throughout the book and Ann Cleeves doesn't shy away from a fair few contentious subjects as the story unfolds.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Long Call and can't wait to see it on the TV when it is inevitably made into a tv series.


The Long Call is the captivating first novel in a brand new series from Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father's funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too. Now he's back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose. A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew's new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.
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The first book in a new series is always a challenge for an established author, and Ann Cleeves has done an excellent job with this book which is set in Devon. Her new main character, Matthew Venn,  is a gay detective,  who lives yards from the scene of crime with his husband, Jonathan. Ann Cleeves has cleverley integrated Jonathan into the storyline so we get to know something about him too. The other new characters who I'm sure will appear in the next in the series are Matthew's two sidekicks,  Ross, who Matthew initially finds irritating but as the book goes on realises he has perhaps judged him harshly, and Jen, a Scouser who has come to Devon with her two children to build a new life. The murder and subsequent kidnappings and intrigue that occur in this first book keep the reader hooked. I recommend it.
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