The Long Call

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

A brand new series from Ann Cleeves is something not to be missed and I dived into The Long Call with eagerness. This is the Two Rivers series, so called because the books are set in North Devon between the Taw and Torridge rivers.

There we meet D.I. Matthew Venn, hovering outside a church where inside his father’s funeral is taking place. Matthew Venn is from this area and grew up part of a strict evangelical sect known as the Barum Brethren. But his family ostracised him when he felt he could no longer believe in their God, or any God, and they have not spoken since.

Matthew is married to Jonathan, an easy going chap and head of The Woodyard, a community arts centre that also houses a day centre for learning disabled adults. Two of those attending are Lucy Braddock and Chrissie Shapland, both of whom have Down’s Syndrome.

Matthew works out of Barnstaple Police station where his boss, DCI Joe Oldham is going through the motions prior to retiring. Matthew’s team are DS Jen Rafferty,  a single parent who has fled Liverpool to get away from her abusive partner and Ross May, the DCI’s blue eyed boy who Jen suspects is Oldham’s eyes and ears on the ground. May is over eager and quite competitive which also doesn’t endear him to Jen.

Their first case is, as it turns out, far too close to home for Matthew to be comfortable, though for the reader it provides a great opportunity for us to get to know the principal series characters and the local area. For that reason, I’d recommend this book for anyone wanting to read the series as it develops.

Simon Walden’s marriage collapsed after he killed a child whilst driving under the influence of alcohol. A veteran, Simon had been drifting since then, drinking too much and suffering from depression. After pitching up at the Woodyard he was taken in by two local women, Caroline Preece who is going out with the local pastor and artist, Gaby Henry.

When Simon is found murdered on the beach at Crow Point, Matthew finds himself in a difficult position. He is too close to the Woodyard and should by rights be excusing himself from the investigation, but Oldham is prepared to let him run with it provided he checks in regularly.

Ann Cleeves beautifully captures the North Devon countryside and seascape and her descriptions of the landscape are evocative and sometimes quite haunting. One of the real strengths of this book is the richly drawn nature of the characters who spring to life from the page. These are people we can see, whose characters we understand and this lets us immerse ourselves in Cleeves story.

I really liked that Cleeves has chosen to write an inclusive novel which portrays the strengths of Down’s Syndrome adults and that Matthew, an introvert, relies on Jonathan, a more relaxed and gregarious individual, to be his rock.

The Long Call is a great read; confident, well-plotted and character driven. Cleeves lays out the plot strands and then slowly and cleverly weaves them into an intricate pattern which is not revealed until the final chapters.

Verdict: Fabulously drawn new characters in a complex and well-plotted police procedural written with insight and compassion. What more could you want?
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I seem to be having a year of firsts this year, continuing a theme with reading my first ever Ann Cleeves book. It's not the first I've bought, or necessarily the first piece of writing I;ve read by the author, as I've read short stories, but it is the first full length novel. And being the first in a brand new, North Devon set series, it seemed a perfect place to start.

The story sees DI Matthew Venn called to the scene of a murder, the body found in a location not far from his own cottage, at the point where the two rivers of Taw and Torridge meet. The man has no I.D upon him, but a rather distinctive tattoo which could be the only clue to his identity. As Venn and his team try to track down the victims name, and his past, it brings the investigation worryingly close to home for Venn, and to a family and a community he thought he had turned his back on for good.

Venn is an awkward character, not necessarily instantly likeable, but the more time you spend with him, the more you realise why and the more I can to understand his motivations and his reticence in sharing much of himself with his team. There is a kind of uncertainty about him, a vulnerability, that takes time to be revealed, but his personal relationships and his ability to understand and bond with some of the more vulnerable witnesses in the story help to make him appear a more empathetic character than his staid approach might first suggest. There is a fire in him, a determination to do right, but it is slightly muted compared to other characters you might read about. I loved the inner turmoil he feels and the way in which the author made the reader party to his thoughts and the trouble this caused him as he is caught between his desire to solve the mystery and a potential conflict of interest between duty and his personal life.

The story itself is complex, so many facets are not immediately obvious not the reader. The story is topical, it examines issues surrounding guilt, religion and abuse of power. It features characters with special needs, vulnerable adults, people with differing levels of mental ability, but does so in an empathetic way, highlighting the strength of character that is so often overlooked in portraying adults or children who have Down's Syndrome for example. The characters feel real, beautifully drawn and the character of Lucy especially being fiercely independent, very astute and an absolute joy to read. And then we have the investigative team; not quite as cohesive as a normal team would be, a slight conflict of personalities and motivation between them all, the frustrations that exist between them adding to the tension in the story.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the way in which Ann Cleeves wove the two elements of the story together - the current investigation and the slow revelation of Venn's own past. They do not seem to fit together at first, the opening funeral scenes providing perhaps context to Venn's character, but not necessarily the story. It is only as the threads are pulled together that the full picture starts to emerge and a mighty fine picture it is too, if somewhat darker than you may initially imagine. 

The story is not fast paced, but it suits the idyllic rural setting perfectly. If you are looking for high octane, it's fairly safe to say you won't find it in Barnstaple anyway. But it does not mean that the story isn't without tension, or dramatic showdowns. There is real jeopardy to behold, real danger to the central characters, and towards the end, as the investigation reaches its climax, you can feel the pace and your pulse, begin to pick up speed.

For the first book in a series this is a really strong start, establishing characters, especially Venn, that I am keen to learn more about. Ann Cleeves has also sold me on the area, highlighting places I was not fully aware of before, painting them so perfectly that I now want to go an visit to see them for myself. North Devon makes for a wild landscape, not quite remote but rural enough, even in the big towns, to allow for some very unusual characters to be brought to the fore

An intriguing and complex story that I'd definitely recommend to mystery lovers.
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Blurb:

For the first time in 20 years, Ann Cleeves—international bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—embarks on a gripping new series.
In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.


Thank you to Net gallery for allowing me to read this, in return for an honest review. 

My Review:

We first meet Matthew Venn standing outside a church at his fathers funeral where he is not welcome. Matthew has just moved back to Devon with his Husband to Police the community he grew up in. 

A body is found on the beach and at first it is seen as an accident, however when Matthew inspects the body he notices stab wounds and turns into a suspicious death which Matthew and his team start to investigate.   However the case starts to get a bit too close to home when the case starts being linked with the Woodyard - a community hub which includes a day center for adults with learning disability as well as a cafe, art therapy and mental health support which is managed by his husband. 

As the investigation unfolds which see's them looking into the life of the deceased man it shows that all is not what it seems. 

I enjoyed how you learnt about Matthew and his past throughout the novel even down to issues within his family. But also how Matthew deals with being an openly gay officer. 

I have to say, throughout the novel I had suspicions about near enough everyone, which I love as it means that the story is that well written you can never guess who it is. 

As a lover of Vera and Shetland, I had high expectations for this novel and it certainly did not disappointment. 

Looking forward to reading for in the Matthew Venn series.
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I'll be honest and say that I didn't give this book the full attention it deserves due to sudden family hospital visits so I may have missed vital happenings in the story. Another brilliant storyline and plot from Ann and it's great to read one of her books that isn't on the telly so I can picture the characters in my head rather than making them fit to actors on the telly. No doubt another lovely area that the story is placed in, Devon. Some refreshing new people and situations involved that I've not come across in other murder mystery books before, so that was a plus. I wont give anything away though. No blood and guts described in the murder as not everyone doesn't want all the glory details.
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What a well thought out page turner of a book. It captures you right from the beginning when a body is found murdered on the beach, with no identification and just a large tattoo of an albatross across the mans neck. In comes Detective Venn to try to solve the crime in this tight knit community. I have to say I suspected everyone along the way except the actual culprit! I love how descriptive this book is, helping to set the scene in your mind. It’s based in Devon which is where I live so I was really able to visualise the places that were mentioned.
It’s exciting that this is the first in a new series, I look forward to reading the next! 
This surely has to become a TV drama series. If you enjoy things like Broadchurch then give this Crime novel a try!

Book Description-
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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Ann Cleeves completed her Shetland series last year and whilst she is still writing Vera Stanhope books, The Long Call is to be her first of The Two Rivers series set in Devon.

The main character is once again a detective, this time called Matthew Venn, who was born and raised in the community - within a religious group who cut him out  when he questioned them and was further disowned by his parents when he married a man, Jonathan.

First they have to  find out who the dead man is and then they have to work out the who and why of the murder itself.

I quite like the main police team but I kind of felt the writing was quite harsh on Jen and how she apparently enjoyed evenings with a bit more alcohol than is recommended; a fact that we don't actually see in the course of the story, yet it seemed to be her identifying feature.

There were a few things I felt wouldn't be allowed in real life crime cases - especially Matthew being allowed to carry on investigating when it began to come close to his personal life. I know he questions it himself but for him to be the one to approach his senior officer and then to be told basically to just carry on felt odd. However, all in all a good read with lots of things to be uncovered.

I look forward to reading more from this series to see how the characters develop over time as I feel there is a lot that could be delved into.
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I never thought that I’d say that Vera Stanhope would get pushed off her spot as my favourite detective but Matthew Venn has nudged his way very close behind her.  Ann Cleeves has a very special talent  for gripping you right from the start of her books, her setting of Devon is a character all by itself  I predict a massive hit for this unassuming detective.  I hope we get to find out more about his relationships and his difficult childhood in future books.  Absolutely cracking read
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for an advance copy of The Long Call, the first novel in a projected series of police procedurals set in North Devon to feature DI Matthew Venn.

When a body is found stabbed to death on a local beach DI Matthew Venn is asked to take charge of the investigation. Their first order of business is identifying the victim and then establishing a motive. His identity is not too difficult to establish but a motive is more difficult as he was a secretive man.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Long Call. It is not an exciting, action packed read but, rather, a slow and gradual accumulation of facts, background and victimology until the rather dramatic denouement where Matthew Venn seems to channel his inner Poirot, holding his theories close to his chest until the reveal. I must admit that I have no understanding of the motivation involved in the murder - it hardly seems credible that people could act in such a way but perhaps I’m just naïve in thinking that people should do the right thing. It made me feel a touch sick at heart when I can read the goriest serial killer novels without flinching and I think this is due to the very everydayness of the situation. I can’t write more without issuing spoilers but it’s a subject I could discuss at length with a reading group in a compare and contrast manner. I liked the ironies and the portrayal of respectability. I think what I’m trying to say is that Ms Cleeves has a quiet, insidious way of making the reader think, not by polemic but by quiet examples.

Matthew Venn is quite a complex character but has nothing that makes him stand out. He is married to his husband, Jonathan, and moved back to Barnstaple from Bristol after the wedding. He was brought up in a strict religious sect but hasn’t spoken to his parents since renouncing his faith as a teenager. Despite this background noise he is a quiet man, anxious and determined to do right, who only opens his mouth when he has something to say. It’s an interesting conundrum for me. I often lament the need for a hook in fictional detectives but when I find hookless I find him a bit boring. I do think, however, that as the series progresses I will begin to find Matthew Venn quietly compulsive.

The Long Call is a good read which I have no hesitation in recommending.
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The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

On the outskirts of Barnstable in north Devon, Detective Inspector Matthew Venn stands outside the church where his father’s funeral is taking place. When Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his parents. And now, as far as his father is concerned, it is too late to rebuild bridges burnt down so long ago. But then Matthew receives a call. A man has been found stabbed to death on the beach near Matthew’s home, which he shares with his husband, Jonathan. Matthew soon learns that the man had links with the care centre for people with learning disabilities that Jonathan runs. It’s all too close to Matthew and it’s set to become closer still as the investigation takes him back into the community he believed he had left for good.

The Long Call is the first in a new series by Ann Cleeves – set in a different part of Britain (a long way from Shetland and Northumberland) and with a new detective at its heart. And it is magnificent. The mood and sense of place is presented perfectly from the very first chapter in which we meet Matthew Venn for the first time. Ann Cleeves is a genius in laying bare character so carefully, sympathetically and lightly – and quickly. Almost immediately I could believe that Matthew is a real person, in convincing relationships with his partner, colleagues and parents, newly part of this rural community in north Devon where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge. It’s a beautiful part of the world, yet also tucked away. When crime happens here it really does shock.

And Matthew has more than one case to deal with and it is all thoroughly engrossing and involving, especially the parts involving the young women who spend their days at Jonathan’s care centre. These vulnerable women are so beautifully portrayed, as are their relationships with their families.

There are plenty of characters here to interest and intrigue the reader, including Matthew’s team, Jen (his sergeant) and Ross (the constable and the favourite of the Chief Inspector). Each is given their own story, which I can’t wait to see develop through future novels, and the three as a team are thoroughly convincing and realistic – I enjoyed the give and take, the way in which Matthew tries to be a boss while still being equal, their irritations with one another, their loyalty. I also liked the way in which they all cope, or not, with the long hours demanded by a murder investigation. Jen in particular has much to juggle, but so, too, does Matthew. I loved the portrayal of the relationship between Matthew and Jonathan. Jonathan is an intriguing character in his own right.

Matthew is the star here, though, for sure. He is lovingly drawn. He stands alone but also is a keen observer. He’s gentle but at times surprisingly fierce. He feels unloveable but we know he isn’t. I loved getting to know Matthew.

I am a huge fan of Ann Cleeve’s Vera Stanhope series but Vera has undoubtedly met her match in Matthew Venn. I am in awe of the author’s power to create yet another convincing series with characters it’s impossible not to feel drawn to. It’s a remarkable achievement. Matthew Venn is a fantastic, fully realised and immensely likeable detective and this mystery is beautifully told, populated by fascinating characters and set in such a lovely, yet remote location. It moves slowly and it’s all the better for it. The Long Call is character driven and what characters they are. It is most certainly one of the finest crime novels I’ve read in a very long time.
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Two Rivers #1

Detective Matthew Venn is outside the church where the funeral is taking place for his estranged father. His father was part of a strict religious community that Matthew had left a long time ago. Just as he's about to leave, he receives a phone call about a death in his area. Then a disabled girl goes missing.

This new series is set in Devon. We are introduced to a new cast of characters who each bring different qualities. Matthew Venn is the new DI. He has a personal connection to the case, the centre where the women received care and the man volunteered is run by his husband. There are pages that focus on Matthews relationship with Jonathan. I liked Matthew, he has faults and insecurities. This is a great story of secrets, murder and deceit. I thought the story started a bit slow but once you get into it a bit more, the pace picks up. It wasn't an edge of your seat read but it did keep my interest and turning the pages. I can't wait to read the next book in this promising new series.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Pan Macmillan and the author Ann Cleeves for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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In The Long Call Ann Cleeves introduces us to DI Matthew Venn who is estranged from his family due to him not sharing their religious beliefs and for becoming a policeman. 

The main story is excellently told by the author with you getting the feeling that every sentence matters especially as the book moves towards its' brilliant conclusion 

The description of the area and the painting, in words, of the main characters is superb

This is the start of a new series from an author who is definitely at the top of her game and I look forward to future books. Highly recommended
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You could say we have enough detectives to be reading about and there is no need for a new one. How wrong you can be as Ann Cleeves introduces us to Matthew Venn in this the first of a new series.

We have moved South and West from Vera and Jimmy Perez stomping ground, to North Devon with Matthew Venn, his Sergeant single mum Jen Rafferty who has escaped a violent marriage and golden boy Ross seems to have got himself caught in a trap of currying favour with a more senior policeman.

Of course we learn all of this as we go through the book.  One might say it is conjecture a mere filling in of pages but actually the characters of these detectives show you how the case can be brought to a close.

A man is found dead on a beach.

The beach is near where Matthew lives with his husband, Jonstahon.

Turns out the man went to the Woodyard Centre where Jonathan is manager.

Then an attendee of the centre goes missing.

Can they all be linked together or is it just a coincidence that everything seems to come back to the Woodyard and the deaths and abductions are just a byproduct.

What is exactly going on?

If you have never read a detective story before (why not?) this would be an ideal place to start. The plot and the pace of the novel show you how it all works, the reasons behind the actions of the criminals but the detectives as well. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, this book shows you how it works when it goes right and obviously wrong.

You are absorbed in the place, the descriptions are so easy to visualise and you can feel yourself there amongst everyone. The choice of relationship for the main detective to have and the introduction of Down Syndrome characters brings another layer to this book. If you think you were getting the stereotypical characters and plot be prepared for something else.

A great start to a series of books which I hope will keep us all entertained and enthralled for many years to come.
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I haven’t read any Ann Cleaves before but heard so many positive reviews. I enjoyed this book, the characters were quite well developed for the first in a set, and quite likeable. It did seem a little drawn out, but i didn’t guess the plot so that was a bonus.  I am looking forward to the next one.
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This is the first title in a new series for the author. I have read a number of books in the Vera and Shetland series. All of these were good and this new series set in the South West is up to the same high standard. The book kept my interest and I liked the plot developments. Highly recommended.
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This is the first Ann Cleeves that I have read and I was looking forward to it.  Sadly, I was rather disappointed.

The Long Call is the first in a new series featuring DI Matthew Venn, who has recently moved back to his childhood home in North Devon.  He is estranged from his parents and the strictly religious group in which he grew up because he is gay and has married another man.  A body found on a beach leads Matthew into an investigation which (of course) involves this group and also the arts and day centre for learning disabled people run by his husband.

Ann Cleeves generates a good sense of place and it’s good to see gay and learning-disabled characters at the forefront of the story...but the story just isn’t all that well done.  There are lots of great, indigestible chunks of characters’ history, quite often of characters who aren’t that important, the whole thing moves very slowly and I got quite bored at times.  The “It’s Personal” aspects felt like a well-worn literary device rather than a natural part of the story and there is (of course) a Race Against Time toward the end with some pretty implausible Investigator In Peril stuff which all felt very formulaic - although we were at least spared a clichéd Cornered Killer Climax.  

I did finish the book, but it was a bit of a slog and I’m not inclined to pursue the series.  Personally, I can’t really recommend it.  (2.5 stars rounded up to 3.)

(My thanks to Macmillan for an ARC via NetGalley.)
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Well known for her Shetland and Vera series, Ann Cleeves is opening yet another beginning with THE LONG CALL and introducing us to DI Matthew Venn. A prolific crime writer, Cleeves captures the essence to the location and the characters with an enthralling plot that continues to surprise from beginning to end. Her unique style is captivated on every page as she addresses and incorporates some of the societal prejudices towards homosexuality as well as the mentally impaired. She does this cleverly and with sensitivity.

The locale is North Devon. In the opening scenes, Matthew Venn is secreted in the bushes of a church on the fringes of his father's funeral. He knows he would not be welcome there, his mother blaming him for his father's death with his "marriage to a man". And yet he hovers to say his goodbyes.

Matthew was raised in a strict fundamentalist religious sect called the Barum Brethren. But his faith was questioned upon going to university in Bristol and his eyes being opened to life of a different kind. Rebelling against the restraints of the Brethren, upon his return Matthew publicly shunned all that he had been taught and lead to believe. As a result, he became an outcast - not only to the Brethren but to his family also.

His decision to join the Police gave Matthew the structure he had been brought up with and for which he now craved. The order and the routine was something he was familiar with and without it he became anxious. As a result of his upbringing, Matthew is socially reserved with a conservative wardrobe of suits and ties and a need for cleanliness. Jonathan, on the other hand, is his polar opposite dressing in shorts, t-shirts and sandals, is messy and loves to entertain. A perfect match, they compliment each other.

Now settled in Barnstaple - the same town in which his mother still lives as well as the members of the Brethren community he rejected - little does Matthew know that the investigation he is about to begin will bring him back into contact with that life that will bring his full circle.

A body has been found on a beach at Crow Point just short of the home Matthew shares with his husband Jonathan. There is no name and no ID - nothing to identify him except for the tattoo of an albatross on his neck. And the only witness to the murder - a herring gull with its long mournful cry. The man is soon identified as Simon Walden, a recovering alcoholic with a past, who volunteered at the Woodyard - a multi-use community centre run by Matthew's husband, Jonathan.

As the story unfolds, we become more familiar with the Woodyard and its characters therein as we meet a social worker, an artist, a priest and some of the people who attend programs that are run there. In particular, the day centre for the mentally disabled and those with learning difficulties where 30 year old Lucy and 42 year old Christine attend - both who have Down Syndrome.

Things begin to get complicated when Matthew and his team discover that not only did Simon have ties to the Woodyard, but that some of the board members of the Woodyard have ties to the Brethren. Matthew begins to wonder if he should recuse himself as SIO due to a conflict of interest. But a murder investigation doesn't come along every day in Barnstaple...and a case like this is what he thrives on. 

Then one of the women with Down Syndrome disappears and Matthew receives a call for help that he never thought he would. Tensions mount and the intensity rises as Matthew and his team - DS Jen Rafferty and DC Ross May - frantically try to find out what happened to Christine and why she was taken. And then Lucy disappears while out with her father. Who has taken these women and what do they want from them? Could the motive be something more sinister?

As the investigation gains momentum, so does the pace as the team sift through information, clues and red herrings to get to the truth. Everyone appears to be hiding something as it all begins to feel incredibly secretive and sinister. But someone knows something. They secret is to find who that someone is...and to uncover what it is they are hiding.

There are so many facets to this story - as well as Venn himself - and the key is trying to figure out how it is all related. I remained blinded throughout without a clue as to who was doing what and while there was no real earth-shattering reveal, when the pieces began to fall into place only then did it complete the full picture.

I really enjoyed this story, despite its slow start (although it wasn't too slow), and I loved the intricacies of each story that was cleverly interwoven with the others. The humanity characterised in each person and their stories was beautifully and sensitively written. To see the sunshine in the smile of someone with Down Syndrome, their innocence and their kindness, amidst the more sinister tale that is woven within.

I really liked Matthew and Jonathan, and I look forward to learning more about them in future novels. I love how Matthew is not your typical brash, aggressive, alcohol drinking, divorced detective. He is compassionate, empathetic and sensitive whilst also being complex and a deep analytical thinker. I like that he is in a loving relationship, one that compliments him and not works against him and vice versa. I also like that this first book gave us the perfect introduction to Jonathan and his position in the community - both professional and personal. I also like that Matthew and Jonathan are so different and yet they compliment each other perfectly with grace and understanding.

Another character I look forward to seeing more of is DS Jen Rafferty. She's a single mother of two teenagers having escaped an abusive ex-husband in Merseyside. We caught a glimpse of her life outside of the police force which I thought was a nice touch, and no demands on her to fulfill her duties as a police officer rather than spending time with her children. I like that Cleeves has tried to find that balance. DC Ross May is someone we don't particularly take to at first, but as the story unfolds and the investigation barrels towards the end, we see a different side to Ross than what is at first portrayed. As a young DC, he is someone who wants to be part of the action now without the benefit of learning through experience. I think he could become a good asset to the team if he keeps his impatience in check. And I hope we don't have any of that in-house fighting that is all too stereo-typically common.

And the victim? Although he had his secrets, he had made a serious mistake for which he was desperately trying to redeem himself...and it cost him his life. From what we could see through others' perspectives in hindsight, he seemed a decent enough bloke trying to make amends.

And of course, there were your genuinely unlikable and horrible people. Some of which I'd hoped were guilty in one way or another and held accountable for their sins, if not their abhorrent behaviour.

I wonder if we will see much in the future about the Brethren and the part it has played in Matthew's life. It is a tough topic, but a very interesting backstory to have, as the Brethren are a very strict and secretive community. They don't allow outsiders, they live a simple lifestyle (some without technology), and they truly do shun any member who dares to leave their tight-knit sect - including family. I think it's an interesting subplot to include to a major character's backstory. I look forward to seeing how this develops.

As in true Cleeves style, THE LONG CALL is a character-driven police procedural with an intricate plot that keeps you guessing. An old-fashioned type murder mystery that builds, weaving an intricate tapestry that erupts in a vast array of colour to reveal the final picture.

Recommended for fans of British mysteries and of course Cleeves' own fan base, THE LONG CALL is a brilliant introduction to a new series I can't wait to delve further into.  And of course, recent news that THE LONG CALL has already been optioned for TV and is currently in development from the makers of Shetland and Vera, is fantastic! I look forward to seeing the portrayal of Matthew Venn and his team.

I would like to thank #AnnCleeves, #NetGalley and #PanMacmillan for an ARC of #TheLongCall in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a great start to a new series. Great characters and plenty of suspense. I will definitely be looking out for the next one.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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I’d like to thank Pan MacMillan and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read ‘The Long Call’ by Ann Cleeves in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

The body of a man is found stabbed on the beach at Crow Point and although DI Matthew Venn is at his father’s funeral watching from afar, he gets a call to return to his office at the Devon & Cornwall Police station to take charge of the case.  As he unearths details of the victim his investigation takes him back to the community where he grew up before he was disowned by his family.

This is the first thriller I’ve read by Ann Cleeves and although it had a strong and interesting plot I found it a bit slow and drawn-out for my liking.  The descriptions of the countryside were so good I could almost hear the birds singing, and there were a few red herrings scattered along the way to confuse, but I didn’t really warm to any of the characters.  Being told on practically every other page that Jonathan was Matthew’s husband was unnecessary, once was enough to for me to place it into the context of the story and Matthew’s history, but apart from that I enjoyed the story and the conclusion was excellent, not at all what I’d expected.
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Ann Cleeves is one of the most consistent and entertaining writers of crime fiction working today, and I was very excited to get an ARC of The Long Call from Netgalley. The setting moves right down the south to Devon, with a brand new detective character, Matthew Venn. As the story opens  Matthew is standing outside the church where his father's funeral is taking place - his estrangement from his strict evangelical family has been a longstanding part of his life. Then he gets a phone call from a member of his team and he is drawn into the investigation of a body found on a nearby beach. 

There's a great sense of place and atmosphere in The Long Call, and I raced through the book, enjoying just "one more chapter" until I thought I might as well just continue to the end.
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Having read and enjoyed two of this author's other series - Vera and Shetland - albeit playing catch-up I was quite excited to get in at the beginning of this, her latest series. I know that series openers have to set the scene and introduce the characters, as well as provide a cracking storyline, but I can't help feeling that the balance wasn't quite right in this book - for me anyway there was far too much backstory and description and I felt that this overshadowed what was going on with the crime being solved. This was more prevalent early on which meant that the beginning did drag a bit for me. That said, I was interested and intrigued enough to read on and was rewarded at the end by a cracking finale. Another thing I did notice was that the book did come across as a bit "TV ready" in nature. With both Vera and Shetland flying high in the TV ratings (and rightly so) I'm not sure whether this new series was written with the TV translation in mind - if indeed the rights haven't already been snapped up.
So, we start with a body on a beach. Not a natural death as first thought but, on closer inspection, it appears he'd been stabbed. Enter Matthew Venn (and yes, he is known by both names quite a lot throughout the book) and his team to investigate. Things get a bit personal for Matthew Venn (annoying isn't it!?!) as their investigation starts to point towards the Woodyard - a community hub comprising mental health support, art therapy and a cafe, as well as a day center for adults with learning disability - which is headed up by his husband Jonathan. 
And so begins a rather convoluted investigation which has all the usual elements you'd expect in a Police Procedural - secrets, lies, duplicitous behaviour - you get the gist. Even Matthew Venn's own past with his estranged family rears its ugly head on a couple of occasions as. together with his team, he tries to cut through the noise to get to the truth.
Apart from being a very slow burn initially, and my other points notwithstanding, this was a good solid series opener which has piqued my interest for more. In Matthew we have an openly gay senior Police officer - something a little different from the norm in crime fiction, if not in the real world too. Not sure of the statistics on that but, to be honest, as with real life this has nothing whatsoever to do with how good he does his job. Which in this book he does very well indeed. He's methodical and thorough and, mostly, gets on well with his team. Chalk and cheese with his husband though but they rub along well.
The main story, once we got to the nitty gritty, was well plotted and executed. Yes, I would have liked it to have got on with itself a little better, especially in the early stages but, hopefully, as we now know pretty much everything about everyone important's personal past and present, the next in series will hopefully crack on a bit. 
All in all, looks like being another winner for Ms Cleeves. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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