The Crow Trap is the first book in Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series - which is now a major TV detective drama starring Brenda Blethyn as Vera.
Three very different women come together at isolated Baikie's Cottage on the North Pennines, to complete an environmental survey. Three women who each know the meaning of betrayal...
Rachael, the team leader, is still reeling after a double betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Anne, a botanist, sees the survey as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own. And then there is Grace, a strange, uncommunicative young woman, hiding plenty of her own secrets.
Rachael is the first to arrive at the cottage, where she discovers the body of her friend, Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide - a verdict Rachael refuses to accept.
When another death occurs, a fourth woman enters the picture - the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope...
Fans of the Vera Stanhope novels already available in the U.S., as well as the TV series Vera, will welcome Cleeves's intricate series opener (first published in 1998), which introduced the Northumberland detective inspector. Three very different women team leader Rachael Lambert, botanist Anne Preece, and mammal expert Grace Fulwell are conducting an environmental impact assessment to estimate the damage that a new quarry would do to a national park's pristine land and wildlife. When a suicide and a murder rock the project, Vera must sift through the murk to catch a ruthless killer. Though it offers a fine mystery, the story nevertheless belongs to its women. Cleeves thoroughly explores the passions and motivations of each, while exposing the human greed and sorrow beneath the bucolic landscape. The Columbo-esque Vera, who hides a fierce intelligence and razor sharp instincts under garish clothing, uses every tool at her disposal to solve the crime.
Brilliant even if you watched the series this book will keep you hooked until the very end