At the isolated Baikie’s Cottage on the North Pennines, three very different women come together to complete an environmental survey. Three women who, in some way or another, know the meaning of betrayal…
Is this the first Vera Stanhope mystery? The cover says so but the cover is new. No, this novel is where we are introduced to Vera, the first time we meet her, and quite a surprise it is too. She doesn’t appear until about a third of the way through. It’s as though Ann Cleeves plonked this curious policewoman into the middle of the plot to tie up some loose ends and present us with the successful solution to the mystery. As it turned out, Vera was a success in herself.
The book is in sections, each exploring the different women and showing a different perspective through several different pairs of eyes. The story slowly unfolds, like peeling a layer back to expose a new layer.There I was, trying to understand what Grace, a strange, uncommunicative young woman, was trying to hide. Rachel was trying to rebuild her confidence after a double-betrayal by her lover and boss, while the third character, Anne, was planning some strange deception.
Another woman, Bella, has committed suicide – a verdict that we’re told is impossible to accept.
Only when the next death occurs does Vera enter the picture, she bursts through a set of church doors after the vicar has already started speaking.
The first impression was of a bag lady, who’d wandered in from the street. She had a large leather satchel slung across her shoulder and a supermarket carrier bag in one hand. Her face was grey and blotched. She wore a knee length skirt and a long cardigan weighed down at the front by the pockets. Her legs were bare. She was a large woman, big bones amply covered, a bulbous nose, man-sized feet
Trauma, obsession, suspense, betrayal and murder. A brooding landscape. An introduction to the wonderful Vera. A gripping read!
My Amazon link : The Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope)