“The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves – Book Review

The first novel in a new series which introduces Detective Matthew Venn. Two Rivers book one.

“Now he could hear 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. These were the noises of home.”

Detective Matthew Venn has just returned to the place where he grew up. He has been estranged from his parents for years. Strictly religious, and members of a puritan-like ‘Brethren’ community, they shunned Matthew for his opposing religious views. Now he has returned to the area for work, and he is newly (and very happily) married to Jonathan. Yet another reason for his mother to disapprove of him…

Jonathan is the manager of the Woodyard, a community center that houses a cafe, instructs adult learning classes, and runs a day center for mentally challenged adults.

Problematic perhaps for Matthew who wonders if his perusing the case will be seen as a conflict of interest due to the fact that various crimes seem to be connected to the Woodyard in some way. One of the volunteer workers was murdered, and now one of the vulnerable adults who attends the Woodyard’s Day Center is missing.

Why do all the connections seem to lead back to the Woodyard?

“We all need secrets, just to keep sane, to feel that the world doesn’t own us.”

I first encountered the work of Ann Cleeves when I read the first novel in her Shetland series some years ago. I’ve been a fan ever since. When I learned that her latest book was the beginning of yet another series, I couldn’t wait to read it.

The protagonist this time out is quite unlike other police inspectors in that he is soft-spoken, solitary, introspective, fastidious, and… he is married to another man. He reminded be a little of P.D. James’ Inspector Dalgliesh, except for the fact that Venn is gay. His relationship with his parents was a troubled one, and he carries that around as baggage.

Matthew Venn’s team were an interesting bunch, especially the flamboyant DS Jen Rafferty who is at constant battle with her work/life imbalance. Escaped from an abusive marriage, Jen is the single mother of two teenagers. She is lonely for male companionship. Because she married young, she is now making up for lost time. Matthew disapproves of her life choices – yet feels she is the best detective he has ever worked with.

Also prominently featured was DC Ross May. In his late twenties, Ross is competitive, brash, and happily married, Ross is the DCI’s golden boy so Matthew Venn feels he must tread carefully around him.

The setting of “The Long Call” was well described. Both the scenes on the coast, where Matthew Venn lives and where the murder took place, as well as the scenes at the police station in Barnstable.

Barnstable Police Station

The ending was satisfactory, though not completely surprising. Altogether, “The Long Call” was a slow burn. An engaging police procedural which should appeal to fans of the genre. Recommended!

This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley.  ISBN: 9781509889570     384 pages

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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12 Responses to “The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves – Book Review

  1. gayebooklady says:

    I, too, really enjoyed The Long Call and plan on reading more books in this new series by Ann Cleeves. While I have read and enjoyed all Ann Cleeves’ books, I have to say the series I enjoyed the most were the Vera Stanhope books. As I think of Vera I just got the idea to read this series again as I enjoyed this protagonist so much! Life can be very short and I have many unread books to start but I think I will enjoy this character one more time!! Lynne, thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Re-reading is a luxury that I deny myself Gaye. Perhaps, once I catch up with my 150+ review commitments??? Will that ever happen? If I were to reread a series it would either be Louise Penny or Elizabeth George.
      My favourite Ann Cleeves series was the one set in Shetland.


      • gayebooklady says:

        Lynne, rereading books isn’t something I thought I would do especially as the well of books I have seems unlimited! Perhaps it is age…..I don’t know. I can understand it is something you can’t do, especially at present, but perhaps some day……

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve come across her name a couple of times recently. Had never heard of her before. If I decide to read one of her books, which would you suggest? Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. carhicks says:

    I have still not read an Ann Cleeves’ book. Maybe I should start with this one as it is a new series. Great review, as always, Lynne.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I also love Ann Cleeves’s books and was so excited to read and review this book. Thanks for your perspective on the author’s new series.


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