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84 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Cleeves does it again!
In the North Pennines on Black Law Farm is an isolated cottage, Baikie's Cottage. Businessmen want to open a quarry nearby, and three young women are using Baikie's as a base for the environmental study they must conduct. When Rachael, the team leader, arrives at Baikie's, she discovers the body of her friend, Black Law Farm owner Bella Furness. Apparently Bella has...
Published on October 16, 2009 by Cathy G. Cole

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars inspector Cleeves
Did not particularly like the main character. This is the first of this series that I've read so perhaps I might find the others more enjoyable but I felt for the main characters position, her methods and ethics were less than desirable. Some main characters may have questionable means of achieving their goals but they are usually competent. I did not feel this character...
Published 19 months ago by Ann Duggan


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84 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann Cleeves does it again!, October 16, 2009
This review is from: The Crow Trap (Paperback)
In the North Pennines on Black Law Farm is an isolated cottage, Baikie's Cottage. Businessmen want to open a quarry nearby, and three young women are using Baikie's as a base for the environmental study they must conduct. When Rachael, the team leader, arrives at Baikie's, she discovers the body of her friend, Black Law Farm owner Bella Furness. Apparently Bella has committed suicide, and Rachael finds that impossible to accept. And when the next death occurs, a fourth woman arrives at Baikie's Cottage: Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope.

Sometimes a writer branches out into different series with varying degrees of success. Ann Cleeves is one of those writers whose books I enjoy regardless of the series of which they're a part. Cleeves' Shetland Quartet is how I first became acquainted with her talent, and once I discovered that she'd written other series, I had to try those as well.

The Crow Trap starts out at a very deliberate pace. All three young women are introduced and their back stories are given while the plot advances. The area around Baikie's Cottage feels closed off, overcast and claustrophobic, as do the young women themselves. The atmosphere itself is rank with secrecy. It's not until page 230 of The Crow Trap that Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope makes her formal appearance:

"She was a large woman-- big bones amply covered, a bulbous nose, man-sized feet. Her legs were bare and she wore leather sandals. Her square toes were covered in mud. Her face was blotched and pitted so Rachael thought she must suffer from some skin complaint or allergy. Over her clothes she wore a transparent mac and she stood there, the rain dripping from it onto the floor, grey hair sleeked dark to her forehead, like a middle-aged tripper caught in a sudden storm on Blackpool prom."

Not your usual inspector, is our Vera. Her mother died while Vera was still quite young, and she grew up with her bird-obsessed father, living with him until his death. Vera still lives in the family home close to the railway. From her many treks across the moors with her father in search of birds and other wildlife, Vera has learned the value of patience, of standing still and quiet, of observing, of listening. These skills are all put to good use during an investigation in which everyone has something they want to remain hidden.

I was in the perfect mood for this book. I wanted something with atmosphere and detail, something that unfolded slowly and steadily, something that had marvelous characterizations. Once again, Cleeves has exceeded my expectations, since I not only read a marvelous book but gained a new inspector to follow.

If you're in the mood for English mysteries with plenty of plot and personality, it would be difficult to find an author better at delivering the goods than Ann Cleeves.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Shetland Mystery, July 30, 2009
This review is from: The Crow Trap (Paperback)
Author Ann Cleeves has created a completely original and engaging character with police detective Vera Stanhope. (For those familiar with the late RD Wingfield's wonderful police series, she is a female version of Det. Insp. Jack Frost!) Vera is loud, uncouth, and overweight. She is also keenly intelligent, shoots from the hip and does not suffer fools gladly. While Vera doesn't make her entrance until nearly midway through the story, there is enough psychological drama and tension to keep the most critical reader hooked. The characters are well-drawn and intriguing, and Cleeves does a remarkable job of providing insight into each of them, all the while maintaining suspense and mystery. I've read all the Vera books and have been impressed with each one. I only hope Ms. Cleeves will pen another sometime soon!
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, November 6, 2010
This review is from: Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope 1) (Paperback)
I also first came upon Ann Cleeves through the wonderful Shetland mysteries and immediately sought out her earlier works. Happily the Vera Stanhope books have just been re-issued (due to a new TV series starring Brenda Blethen as Vera). This is a suspenseful novel with interesting, varied and beautifully drawn characters, all of whom come alive on the page, with a strong sense of place. I couldn't put it down. Such a treat to read a well-written mystery where you're absorbed by the characters as well as compelling plot developments. Ann Cleeves is among the best, can't wait to begin Telling Tales (the next Vera book).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding atmospheric mystery, July 24, 2011
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This review is from: Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope 1) (Paperback)
I echo the other glowing reviews that appear on this site. The Crow Trap is an outstanding novel; it also happens to be a first-rate mystery. There is the obligatory murder(more than one, in fact) but the strength of this work is, in my opinion, in the in-depth rendering of the people and the places involved. Through her gift of human insight and a deft prose style, the author creates a tension, a mood that is palpable and compelling. I won't repeat what others have said about the subject matter of the book, or describe Vera herself, other than to say she is a most refreshing and interesting character -- not the standard-issue detective by a long chalk. It is worth mentioning, however, that this is a long book and one that is organized a bit differently from a straight narrative. The story is divided into separate parts which illuminate the mystery from the view points of several of the major players in the drama. Further, each part delves deeply into the pysche of the character whose viewpoint is being presented. I found this technique fascinating. I'm not certain every reader will agree. It has a tendency to slow down the action and it does make for a longer story, but in the case of The Crow Trap, that was no hardship for me. There is plenty of "action" going on under the surface to hold my attention, and frankly, I didn't want the book to end. I highly recommend this book, as well as Anne Cleeves' other offerings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All the emotions are presented again in a very human way, August 5, 2014
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A different start to this book as she introduces some of the main characters first and you start to wonder where Vera is. Vera too is more fleshed out than in other novels. The scenery, the lives of people, the hopes and despair are all classic Cleeves. But with the skill of a confident writer, she brings all ends together and produces a very satisfactory outcome. It's a pleasure to read because somehow, at some point she will make you relate to the characters - and that for me is the trick to enjoying a novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book, November 1, 2014
This review is from: Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope 1) (Paperback)
Crow Trap is the 1st book in the Vera Stanhope series. I was introduced to Ann Cleeve's wonderful writing from reading her Shetland series. I enjoyed this book very much. The format of the book is different than most mystery books. We are first introduced to three females who are doing environmental studies. The study is to see what changes to the environment a proposed quarry will do the the country side in the North Pennines England. Vera makes her appearance a little over 200 pages into the book.

There was so much to like about this book. It was well written and well plotted. There were many suspects. It was atmospheric. One could picture the landscape around Black Law Farm. The characters were very well developed. Vera Stanhope is not a cookie cutter inspector. She is quite plain, outspoken, blunt, a good listener, and can walk very softly. She does not apologize when people realize she has been listening in. The author has made her very human. She had a very difficult childhood living with her father. She still lives in their house by the railroad tracks. She is very intelligent and does not rush to action or judgment.

The story slowly unfolded. It was like peeling a layer back to expose a new layer. My interest never lagged in the reading. It was a book to savor. It was one of my favorite reads of this year. I think readers of Louise Penny might enjoy Ann Cleeves books.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars inspector Cleeves, May 15, 2013
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Did not particularly like the main character. This is the first of this series that I've read so perhaps I might find the others more enjoyable but I felt for the main characters position, her methods and ethics were less than desirable. Some main characters may have questionable means of achieving their goals but they are usually competent. I did not feel this character met any of the qualities I look for in my protagonists
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, July 1, 2014
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Karin "amberdarcy" (Johannesburg, South Africa) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed this book. I had seen the episode of Vera and the book gave so much insight into the characters. I will be ready all the Vera books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, March 9, 2014
I became interested in this very unique and picturesque woman detective after watching the PBS series. When I found the first book in the series at a wonderful used book store, I had to buy it. Vera Stanhope is a wonderful fictional character. And Ann Cleeves does a fine job of drawing this character as well as the many other strong characters in this book. I loved the setting as well - Northumberland, England and Ms. Cleeves descriptions of the countryside and of the North Pennines are very realistic. It is an area of England that I'd love to visit some day. This is a detective story that is certainly different than your run-of-the-mill detective stories. It is complex and detailed and punctuated throughout with Vera's unconventional style of investigation and her acerbic personality. This was a book that was a pleasure to read. It was a novel that kept me fully involved and immersed in the wonderful story that Ann Cleeves has created. I can't wait to read the next book in this truly engaging series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A full Northern UK mystery, February 3, 2014
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A full, satisfying story, venturing into the psychological but fortunately still keeping a story line going. The tale is told, in order, by different protagonists, the police woman being left to last. A good read, helped by knowing the Northumbrian national park where most of it is set.
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Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope 1)
Crow Trap (Vera Stanhope 1) by Ann Cleeves (Paperback - 2010)
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