Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves

First Sentence:  Vera Stanhope climbed out of Hector’s ancient Land Rover and felt the inevitable strain on her knees.
What is an Inspector to do when one’s neighbor goes to a writer’s retreat and another of the attendees turns up dead?  In Vera’s case, and with the approval of her Superintendent, she, and her team, investigate it.  But is her neighbor truly as innocent as Vera thought?   
Ann Cleeves has the most wonderful voice and creates such a strong sense of place—“It was October and the light was going.  A smell of wood-smoke and ice.  Most of the trees were already bare and the whooper swans had come back to lough.”
Vera is definitely not a cozy Miss Marple—“Let folk into your life and they started making demands.  She hated people making demands.”—yet her internal monologue, which is delightful, tells so much more about her—“And why had she agreed to do as Jack asked…Because I’m soft as clarts.  Because I enjoy happy endings and want to bring the couple together again, like I’m some great fat Cupid in wellies.”
Cleeves explains perfectly why—“…everyone loved a murder… They loved the drama of it, the frisson of fear, the exhilaration of still being alive.  People had been putting together stories of death and the motives for killing since the beginning of time, to thrill and to entertain.”   Such a perfect statement and small truth. 
It’s nice that we have Joe’s internal thoughts as well.  They reveal information about the character, his relationship with Vera—“You’re my eyes and my ears, Joe.  I’m a simple soul; I can’t talk and observe at the same time.”--and about Vera herself as she is perceived by others.  In fact, the way in which we are introduced to the supporting characters is very well done.  Rather than the author introducing them to us, many of them introduce themselves to another character. 
      Vera’s relationships with people, particularly Joe, are fascinating.  She reads them well and knows just how to manipulate them, but never in a malicious way.  With her team, she knows how to get the best out of them.  The way in which she conjectures about other people’s lives makes one realize that many may do the same.
There’s nothing better than a good plot twist.  One dealing with the forensics of the murder is even more clever.  There is, however, one significant problem; the author/editor couldn’t seem to decide on the manner by which the first victim died.  This could rather throw one out of the flow of the story.  Still, the plot twists are well spaced and very well done.  As should be, one doesn’t see them coming, but they are very effective when they do.  In the end, all the questions are answered.
The Glass Room” has a wonderful theme and a setting to be appreciated by readers and hopeful writers.  Very good drama and suspense, combined with the several well-placed twists, makes this a very good read.

THE GLASS ROOM (Pol Proc-Insp. Vera Stanhope-England-Contemp) – VG+
      Cleeves, Ann – 5th in series
      Minotaur Books – April 2018

1 comment:

  1. So glad you enjoyed this as well as you did. I think Cleeves is a really talented writer, and her Vera Stanhope character is strong and well-developed.