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Books – Review of The Herons Cry by Ann Cleeves – 2021 – Wonderful Thriller

by AniM
the herons cry book cover
The Herons Cry Book Cover

Book Review of The Herons Cry by Ann Cleeves – Wonderful Thriller

My Rating – 4 out of 5

Plot Summary (Storyline) – The Herons Cry

My first Ann Cleeves and her second Matthew Venn novel! Set in the picturesque locales of North Devon, Detective Inspector Matthew Venn, his assistant DS Jen Rafferty and DC Ross May. What I immediately liked about this book is that not does Ms. Cleeves build up Matthew Venn’s character as he’s the chief protagonist, the others, e.g. Jen and Ross get equal treatment. Their personal lives, thoughts, and challenges occupy almost as much space as does Matthew’s. This really balances out the novel very nicely. She also normalizes Matthew and his husband Jonathan’s personal lives well, highlighting their social acceptance in a non-urban commune quite naturally.

Jen Rafferty is attending a party on Friday night at her friend Cynthia’s house when a local medical professional Nigel Yeo, walks up to her and seeks to set an appointment with her the next day, to take professional advice on some matter which he doesn’t specify. But the morning after, he turns up dead, killed by a shard of glass broken from a vase. The vase was created by Nigel’s daughter Eve in her studio – she is a glass artist. The setting is a big house and farm owned by eccentric millionnaire cum Economist cum philanthropist Francis Ley and Ley has given it to many people on rent – people who were otherwise struggling to survive.

The Herons Cry Book Trailer

Ley’s philanthropy has not been without controversy though. People accuse him of being patronizing to those in need and being focused on profit than actually helping people. His tenants include Nigel’s daughter Eve, driftwood artist Wesley Cunrow and distant relatives, Sarah and John Grieve. Matthew discovers in the course of his investigation that Nigel and his organization North Devon Patients Together – which looks into possible medical malpractices – was looking into the suicide of a teenage local boy, Alexander Mackenzie, as being hastened by systemic apathy on behalf of the NHS. So did he ruffle any feathers there, so that to silence him, he had to be killed?

Meanwhile, another murder happens – again with one of Eve’s glass shards and is followed soon after by another suicide. All the more perplexing because no one seems to be gaining from these murders! Matthew, Jen, and Ross interview all who are connected to the victims and their relatives but come up with nothing concrete. They also trace a similar case to Alexander’s suicide, in London, some years ago where also the parents complained of the NHS’s negligence and apathy. Though there’s no direct link between the two, Ross’s IT specialist friend finds a Suicide Chat room that both teenagers frequented, but the moderators are smartly hidden. Is this the break that Matthew was hoping for?

the herons cry
The Herons Cry Alternate Cover

Conclusion – Book Review of The Herons Cry

Though I did not feel any kind of electricity building up between the pages, the story races along quite nicely, without the tempo ever going down. The investigation is meticulous, in keeping with Matthew’s penchant for order, by-the-book activities, and immense patience. Jen is an intuitive, bend the rules a bit type of investigator while Ross is ambitious and looking to corner some glory for himself. Together, the trio forms an effective group of detectives, even though Ross doesn’t much like either of them – in keeping with the perceptions of DCI Joe Oldham, Matthew’s boss and Ross’s idol and mentor in the police force.

Overall, it comes together quite handsomely, without being edge of the seat exciting! The peeks into the personal lives of the investigators and the other characters involved are much appreciated and welcome. The author’s vivid description of the North Devon landscape and weather builds up the atmosphere very well and transports the reader almost to the backseat of Matthew’s car, offering a grandstand view into the investigation. Overall, a truly wholesome read! Recommended!!

the herons cry author ann cleeves
The Herons Cry Author Ann Cleeves

*I hope you have enjoyed reading this book review as much as I have enjoyed writing this! Do watch this space for more such reviews and navigate through the links below for more… Thank you!! *

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