Welcome to Murder by the Book's blog about what we've read recently. You can find our website at www.mbtb.com.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hidden Depths, by Ann Cleeves (UK ed. only, sorry)

[Yes, sorry, for again choosing a book not available -- for the moment -- in the U.S. Something to look forward to!]

I got hooked on the ITV [British TV] production, "Vera," based on Ann Cleeves' books about DI Vera Stanhope of a fictional northern England police jurisdiction. Since MBTB imports some books from England, I snagged a copy of Hidden Depths, the basis for the first episode of "Vera."

I was shocked that the TV production changed so much of the ending, and I still don't know why. Maybe Cleeves' original version wasn't cinematic enough. Vera, however, is wonderfully brought to life by actress Brenda Blethyn in all of Vera's sarcastic, mopey, imperious glory. I'm glad I approached it this way, the TV version first, because Blethyn's expression of Vera's idiosyncrasies was spot on.

Vera brings all the baggage from her unpleasant childhood and lonely adulthood to bear in her job as a police detective, especially in Hidden Depths. Vera's father was an autocratic, egocentric birdwatcher and Vera's sole parental influence. Some of the suspects in the book are birdwatchers, making use of Vera's hard-earned insight into their culture. And some of them seem lonely. Takes one to know one, Cleeves seems to say. The solution to the murders of two young people are tailor-made for Vera.

If you don't need to like a main character or have him/her be your surrogate in solving mysteries, then you are primed to get the best out of Cleeves' series.

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