The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves

Today it’s my great pleasure to share my thoughts on book two in the Matthew Venn/Two Rivers series from Ann Cleeves, The Heron’s Cry and to wish the author a very happy publication day. I really enjoyed the first book in the series and have been looking forward to this sequel for quite some time. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invite and to publisher Macmillan for the early #gifted copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 02 September 2021
Publisher: Macmillan

About the Book

The Heron’s Cry is the second novel in the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling series featuring detective Matthew Venn, from the creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder – Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases.

Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved though to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found – killed in a similar way. Matthew finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home…

The Long Call and The Heron’s Cry are part of Ann Cleeves’ Two Rivers series and have been recently commissioned for ITV.

My Thoughts

If you are looking for a crime series that combines great characters and real mystery as well as atmospheric and vividly imagined setting then the Two Rivers series from Ann Cleeves is definitely one you should think about picking up. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, The Long Call, and although this is. far from the fast paced and darker side of crime fiction that I love, the characters and storyline kept me completely engaged and I quickly found myself settling into the slightly unexpected world of Matthew Venn and his team, based around the North Devon town of Barnstaple. Now anyone who has been there on holidays will probably think that the town and its residents can’t possibly be harbouring many dark secrets, but you’d be wrong as Ann Cleeves has proven once again in The Heron’s Cry.

This time around the team are called to the scene of a bloody murder, a man who has been dispatched shortly after telling DS Jen Rafferty that he would like to speak to her on a potentially business related matter. Always an ominous sign right at the start of a story, especially if said conversation cannot happen straight away. Whilst that got my spidey senses tingling straight away, what I wasn’t expecting was the complex and emotionally driven investigation that DI Matthew Venn and his team find themselves caught up in. Once again, there are blurred lines between the professional and the personal as friendships, and indeed marriages, are put to the test as the Detectives strive to get to the bottom of the murder. The body count does increase and the case does become very complicated with a whole host of potential motives and suspects brought to the fore over the course of the book. The guilty party is hidden in plain sight, the truth of the story far more surprising than anyone expected, me included.

I really do like the little world that Ann Cleeves has built up in and around Barnstaple. The characters are a very varied team, from the stoic and level headed but delicately scarred Matthew Venn, to slightly more straight talking, single mother of two Jen Rafferty. Alongside them is the super ambitious and rather impatient Ross May, and whilst they may be as diverse a bunch as you could find, and perhaps not always working in complete harmony, they do fit together well, each one offering something that one of the others lacks. Yes, there are times where Ross can be frustrating, and sometimes Venn’s inner demons threaten to derail his logic and his anxiety may surface, but it serves to make them all feel real, human, and I really have grown to like them very quickly.

As for the setting, whilst the author may have taken some liberties with the landscape surrounding the town, she has captured the essence of the area perfectly, a magic of blend of coastal, rural and urban geography that is typical of this part of Devon. She has chosen each location carefully, allowing for a certain amount of mystery and suspense as the remote nature of some of the scenes make the possibilities endless. You get a real sense of place and I could picture the scene perfectly. Pacing is pitched perfectly for this kind of story, emphasising the frustrations of the Detectives as well as the occasional urgency, but also reflecting the very sensitive nature of the investigation – all questions and very few answers. Bit then this isn’t a story that should be rushed, part of the story set in the world of mental illness and depression, subjects which are handled carefully by the author, but in which the darker side of the matter is still explored.

Another excellent addition to the series and I really looked forward to reading more about Venn and the team. Definitely recommended.

About the Author

Ann Cleeves is the author behind ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. She has written over twenty-five novels, and is the creator of detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez – characters loved both on screen and in print. Both series are international bestsellers.

In 2006 Ann was awarded the Duncan Lawrie Dagger (CWA Gold Dagger) for Best Crime Novel, for Raven Black, the first book in her Shetland series. In 2012 she was inducted into the CWA Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame. Ann lives in North Tyneside.

Ann Cleeves is the author of over thirty critically acclaimed novels and is translated into as many languages. She is the creator of popular detectives Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez who can be found on television in ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. The TV series and the books they are based on have become international sensations, capturing the minds of millions worldwide. Sunday Times number 1 bestseller, THE LONG CALL, was the first in Ann’s Two Rivers series set in Devon, and is now in production for an ITV drama.

Ann moved to North Devon when she was 11 years old. Before then the family lived in a tiny village, and as the headmaster’s daughter she always felt like the outsider at school. But in Barnstaple, Ann found a real home. She made life-long friends and fell
in love with the beautiful North Devon coast, which still has a very special place in her heart. She worked as a probation officer, librarian, bird observatory cook and auxiliary coastguard before she embarked on her career as an author.

Ann’s been awarded the highest accolade in crime writing, the 2017 CWA Diamond Dagger, and is a
member of ‘Murder Squad’, working with other British northern writers to promote crime fiction. A
passionate champion for libraries, she was a national libraries Day Ambassador in 2016. Her new ‘Reading Coaches’ project, providing support for health and wellbeing in communities, launches in the North East this summer. Ann lives in North Tyneside near where the Vera books are set.

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4 thoughts on “The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves

  1. Excellent review Jen. I just read this one as well and really enjoyed it. The writing is descriptive and pulled me right in. Throw in a great mystery and I am a fan for sure.


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