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Summary and book reviews of The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

The Long Call

The Two Rivers Series Book #1

by Ann Cleeves

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves X
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2020, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

From Ann Cleeves - bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows - comes the first in 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 estranged father's funeral takes place. On 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 to the people and places of his past, as deadly secrets hidden at their hearts are revealed, and his new life is forced into a collision course with the world he thought he'd left behind.

From Ann Cleeves, bestselling author of Vera and Shetland, beloved by readers and TV viewers alike, comes a spectacular new series, told with deep compassion and searing insight.

Chapter One

The day they found the body on the shore, Matthew Venn was already haunted by thoughts of death and dying. He stood outside the North Devon Crematorium on the outskirts of Barnstaple, a bed of purple crocus spread like a pool at his feet, and he watched from a distance as the hearse carried his father to the chapel of rest. When the small group of mourners went inside, he moved closer. Nobody questioned his right to be there. He looked like a respectable man, a wearer of suits and sober ties, prematurely grey-haired and staid. Not a risk- taker or a rule-breaker. Matthew thought he could have been the celebrant, arriving a little late for the service. Or a diffident mourner, sheepish and apologetic, with his soft skin and sad eyes. A stranger seeing him for the first time would expect sympathy and comfortable words. In reality, Matthew was angry, but he'd learned long ago how to hide his emotions.

He checked his feet to make sure that no flowers had been crushed, then ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The Long Call opens with a scene of Matthew Venn standing outside his father's funeral service, mulling over why he is watching from the outside rather than mourning with family and friends inside. How do the relationships between parents and children—Matthew and his mother, Lucy and Maurice, Caroline and Christopher—affect the events of the novel?
  2. When Jen and Ross first see Simon's room, Jen says "it could be a monk's room," and Ross responds: "Or a prison cell." As you learn who Simon was, throughout The Long Call, which of these comparisons doyou find most accurate?
  3. Matthew goes to examine Simon's body on the beach, and thinks: "Now he could hear the surf on the beach and the cry of a herring gull, the sound naturalists...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The novel combines a memorable protagonist with a baffling crime that is complex yet believable. Highly recommended to anyone who loves a good whodunnit; its examination of many social issues also makes it a great novel for book group discussion...continued

Full Review Members Only (716 words).

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

New York Times
A prolific author with two sturdy mystery series already underway, Cleeves has a fondness for quirky characters, several of whom show up here when Venn starts interviewing suspects. But Cleeves’s true strength lies in her descriptions of the natural world, gorgeously captured in this brief description of Venn listening to 'the surf on the beach and the cry of a herring gull, the sound naturalists named the long call, the cry which always sounded to him like an inarticulate howl of pain.'

People
Cleeves' acclaimed Shetland series may be history, but her newest detective—buttoned-up, gay, married, ex-evangelical Matthew Venn—is a righteous successor.

Booklist
As usual with this talented author, the key is relationships, and the murder is an occasion to examine them and then, finally, to expose what rips them apart.

Kirkus Reviews
Fans missing detective Jimmy Perez (Wild Fire, 2018, etc.) will find a worthy successor in the equally complex Venn, who presides over an excellent mystery in this series kickoff.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Cleeves makes good use of Devon local color and populates this subtle, expertly paced mystery with distinctive supporting characters.

Library Journal (starred review)
The plotting is complex and intriguing, the location comes alive, and the resolution satisfies...fans of Cleeves lamenting the end of the Shetland series will find much to love in her new characters and setting.

Author Blurb David Baldacci, #1 New York Times bestselling author
As a huge fan of both the Shetland and Vera series of books, I had high expectations for Cleeves' latest. She easily exceeded those expectations with The Long Call. Matthew Venn is a keeper. A stunning debut for Cleeves' latest crimefighter.

Author Blurb Sara Paretsky, New York Times bestselling author of the V.I. Warshawski series
Brilliant, thoughtful and deeply engaging.

Author Blurb Hank Phillippi Ryan, Nationally bestselling and award-winning author of The Murder List
Ann Cleeves is a phenomenal talent. With unfailing skill, gorgeous setting, flawless plot and seamless voice, she brilliantly conjures new worlds in crime fiction. Her instantly iconic Detective Matthew Venn is a treasure?and we will all follow him anywhere.

Reader Reviews

Victoria

So-so mystery title
Thanks to Minotaur Books and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this upcoming mystery. Overall, it fell flat for me. I didn’t find the mystery story that compelling and yet still felt it was wrapped up rather quickly towards the end. The...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Ann Cleeves' Five Mystery Series

Ann Cleeves (b. 1954) is best known for her mystery novels set in rural Britain, which have sold over five million copies in the thirty-plus years she's been writing. Cleeves has penned four series before releasing The Long Call, the first entry in her new Two Rivers series:

Bird in the HandGeorge and Molly Palmer-Jones (8 books)
Published from 1986 to 1996, these books follow George Palmer-Jones and his wife Molly as they travel throughout the English countryside, birding and solving crimes. The first entry in this series, A Bird in the Hand, was inspired by the author's personal experience. She met her husband, ornithologist Tim, while she was working as a cook in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle. They quickly married. Soon after, according to the ...

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