Silent Voices is the novel fans of the TV series will appreciate if for no other reason than it’s in this book that Joe Ashworth comes into his own.
While investigating the murder of a social worker, Jenny Lister, who everyone describes as a “good woman”, Vera (who found the body) uncovers links to past cases and a young, troubled mother in jail as well as a former colleague of Jenny’s who has been hounded out of her job and town and now lives in the same village.
As Vera, Joe and the team investigate, a series of possible suspects with historical links to each other and a health clinic called Willow emerge. But when another person is found murdered, the case becomes even more complex than Vera imagined. Knowing she has to solve it before more people lose their lives, the hunt for the killer and, more importantly, his or her motivation, becomes fraught.
Wonderfully plotted and written, what is really rewarding for fans is that we get to not only see the case through Joe’s eyes and learn more about the way he thinks, but we get to see Vera as he does. Understanding her perhaps better than anyone, Joe is not immune to finding her frustrating, belligerent and demanding, but it’s the way in which he reconciles her less attractive attributes that endears us to him and to his difficult boss.
Another fabulous instalment in a terrific series.
Tags: crime, families, Joe Ashworth, murder, Silent Voices, social work, suspects, Vera Stanhope #4
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Unable to tear myself away from Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope series and the world within, I found myself finishing book 2 and moving straight to book 3, Hidden Depths. Unlike the first two books in this series, I recalled the TV show based on this particular story quite well, but not so well I could remember the killer or motivation for the murders. Thus, when the book opens with the death of a young, beautiful man, Luke, in his own home, strangled and then placed in a bathtub full of water and strewn with flowers ala Sir John Everett Millais’ Ophelia, I vividly remembered the scene but again, not quite what happened next.
Vera and her team are called to find the culprit but, when a second body, that of the beautiful student teacher, Lily Marsh is also found dead, in water and with flowers strewn around, Vera understands that not only are the two crimes linked, but a dangerous and possibly unhinged killer is on the loose and, the longer she or he remains free, the likelihood of another body being found is high.
Unable at first to find connections between Luke and his family and Lily Marsh, it’s only when Vera, Joe and the other investigators look at the area in which Lily was found and the group of close friends who discovered her body that clues and links start to surface. Knowing the answer lies within this tight friendship group and the secrets they hold as well as the passion they share for not only bird-watching (what is it about bird-watchers that makes them so likely to commit murder? I only recently watched an episode of Midsomer Murders – for the tenth time – featuring murderous bird-watchers! It’s enough to make you twitch – sorry) but one of the wives, Vera is tested to her limits. As she begins to doubt her instincts, they kick in harder. But will she listen to them, or allow self-doubt to govern?
Another atmospheric, character-driven story by the fabulous Cleeves. With each book, the personality of Vera and elements of her past come to the fore, enabling the reader to get to know this force of nature even better. Vulnerable yet strong, riven with regrets and insecurities, smart and aware she’s oft under-estimated, Vera is a terrific, rich character whose full depths are yet to be plumed. The other people populating this novel are also beautifully drawn and it’s testimony to Cleeves’ skill that she’s able to paint such fabulous and intricate word-portraits in such short spaces. Joe Ashworth is the character yet to be revealed to those who love the TV series and I already know from commencing Book #4, that it’s in these pages that he begins to shine.
Another great read.
Tags: ' Ophelia, bird-watching, by Ann Cleeves, crime, families, flowers, Hidden Depths, insecurities, Midsomer Murders, murder, Sir John Everett Millais, Vera Stanhope #4, water
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