Silent Voices is the fourth book in Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series - which is now a major TV detective drama starring Brenda Blethyn as Vera.
When DI Vera Stanhope finds the body of a woman in the sauna room of her local gym, she wonders briefly if, for once in her life, she's uncovered a simple death from natural causes. But a closer inspection reveals ligature marks around the victim's throat - death is never that simple...
Doing what she does best, Vera pulls her team together and sets them interviewing staff and those connected to the victim, while she and colleague, Sergeant Joe Ashworth, work to find a motive. While Joe struggles to reconcile his home life with the demands made on him by the job; Vera revels being back in charge of an investigation again. Death has never made her feel so alive...
And when they discover that the victim had worked in social services, and had been involved in a shocking case involving a young child, then it appears obvious that the two are somehow connected. Though things are never as they seem...
Northumbrian Det. Insp. Vera Stanhope makes her winning U.S. debut in this mildly chaotic police procedural, the fourth entry in a series that's the basis for Vera, a British TV crime show now filming its third season. When Vera discovers the strangled body of social worker Jenny Lister in the steam room of Newcastle's Willows Health Club, she assembles her irreverent but loyal crew, who start interviewing the staff. They eventually focus on Danny Shaw, the club's sly temporary cleaner. Meanwhile, Vera discovers a strong link between several women in Jenny's village, Barnard Bridge, who all have ties to Jenny and her work with foster families and adoptions. The entire team wisely uses an investigator's greatest resource: village gossip. Yet it is Stanhope herself a homely, overweight spinster with blotchy skin, a fondness for alcohol, and a toxic personality who, using intuition and subtle intimidation, brings all the disorganization to an illogical but satisfying conclusion.
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Losing interest in Vera
I’ve been a fan of Ann Cleeves’ crime fiction for a while now and loved the Jimmy Perez series. But the Vera Stanhope character in this series is fairly one-dimensional unfortunately. The character hasn’t grown at all; we discovered most of what made her tick in the first book of the series but since then she’s remained an overweight, grumpy heavy drinker with father issues who isn’t going anywhere. I will persevere with the next in the series in the hope that there will be a shift, but if not, I won’t bother with another.