Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Audiobook Review - The Long Call

  • Title And Author: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
  • Publisher: MacMillian
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Audiobook & eBook
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: eProof Gifted by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and Audiobook borrowed from local library via BorrowBox
  • Length: 384 Pages or 10 Hours 23 Minutes

This wasn’t meant to be my first review on the Pewter Wolf in 2020. I had planned to keep this back for a possible Audiobook Month later in the year, celebrating audiobooks. I still have plans for that, but I was listening to this over the Christmas/New Year period and I changed my mind. I thought this would make a nice start to 2020, trying to show off my plans for the year. 

The Long Call is the first book in Ann Cleeves new series, Two Rivers. We know Ann Cleeves for writing the Shetland series (starting with Raven Black - which I do own, I think) and the Vera Stanhope series (starting with The Crow Trap). Both series adapted to television (Vera on ITV and Shetland on BBC) and The Long Call has already been bought for TV adaptation. So, a new series is both exciting and scary for Cleeves fans. 

In North Devon, where the river Taw meets the river Torridge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn is standing outside a church. It’s his father’s funeral, but he can’t attend. His family are members of a strict evangelical community, the Barum Brethren, and, when he was younger, he turned his back on the faith, his family disowned him and when he met and married a man… well, you can guess the rest...

But it’s on this day that Matthew is thrown into his first major case. A body has been found on the beach, very close to Matthew’s house. A man who was stabbed with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck. 

Slowly, Matthew and his team are pulled into the case, with connections not only to the family and  religious friends who turned their backs on Matthew but to the Woodyard Centre, a safe place for disabled and mentally impaired people and a community centre that provides counselling serves, classes, charity services. The centre is managed by Matthew’s husband, Jonathan, and Matthew can’t help but wonder if he’s far too close to the investigation to solve it.

So, this is my first Ann Cleeves’s novel and I enjoyed it much more than I expected. 

As you know if you’ve followed the Pewter Wolf for a while, I tend to like my crime novels to move at quite a pace. But this is a much slow burn of a read. Ann Cleeves makes this a slow burn so we get to know the characters, but investigating and those involved in the crime. And because it’s slower, we see how complex the characters and the case is. It’s not a simple murder, there are layers and you need the pacing to be a tad slow to let the characters and story breath. 

Matthew Venn isn’t a typical lead. He’s quiet, thoughtful, very unsure of himself as a person, husband and a Police officer, and compassionate. The two other officers - Jen Refferty and Ross May - are a nice counter point to Matthew. Jen is smart, fierce and straightforward with a heartbreaking backstory while Ross is competitive, a show-off but who needs to learn how to be a team player and patience (and Matthew, who rarely speaks ill of officers in his evening meetings, does have to scolded him). 

This book tackles some dark issues - murder, abuse of power, sexual assault, mental health, religious convictions and blind faith, among others - and we have a look at how people look and treat people with addiction or mentally impaired as one of the character witness is a woman with Down Syndrome.

This might not be for everyone and I totally get that. I listened to this via audiobook and I do think the narrator can make or break an audiobook. I’be had worse narrators, but I did find some of the character voices merged together so you have to be on the ball. Plus, with this being a slow-burn mystery, people might not like the pacing.

But this weirdly worked for me and I am now making plans to read more Ann Cleeves. Like I said earlier I do have Raven Black on my kindle so hope to read that before the next book in this series comes out as I want to continue this series.

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