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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vera Stanhope lets nothing stand in the way of solving the crime!, February 4, 2011
This review is from: Telling Tales (Paperback)
First Line: Sitting at the bedroom window, Emma looks out at the night-time square.

It's been ten long years since Jeanie Long has been locked up for the murder of teenager Abigail Mantel. Ten long years, and now evidence has come forward that proves Jeanie's innocence. The villagers of Elvet on the East Yorkshire coast know this means Abigail's killer is still at large. Yorkshire police believe it best to bring in an investigative team from outside to re-open the case, and Northumbria's Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope finds herself amongst the "Yorkies" sifting through all the witnesses' stories to piece together the truth.

Stanhope finds many questions that need answers. Two of the leads on the original case left the force and are now living in the area. Both of them had seemed content with Jeanie Long's conviction. The murdered girl's father is a businessman and no better than he has to be. Even the victim's best friend seems wreathed in daydreams and unsure of what really went on ten years ago. Stanhope has her work cut out for her.

But if there's anyone with the patience to get to the bottom of this case, it's Vera Stanhope. A middle-aged, homely woman, she's used to being in the background and allowed to listen and observe. When she finds the loose thread of a clue, she worries and worries at it until it's pulled loose, and she follows wherever it leads. She is quite simply a joy to watch as the case unfolds.

Ann Cleeves is one of the most talented crime fiction writers today. Her atmospheric settings bring in the natural world and tease the imagination as her plots twist and turn-- and her characterizations are brilliant, never hitting a false note. If you've never tried a book written by Ann Cleeves, I strongly urge you to do so!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cleeves' unerring sense of human frailty, November 21, 2011
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This review is from: Telling Tales (Paperback)
"Telling Tales" is a first rate police procedural featuring the intrepid North England Police Inspector Vera Stanhope. In this story, Stanhope is assigned to open an old murder case when new evidence exonerates the young woman convicted of the crime ten years before. The exoneration comes too late for the woman who has just killed herself after being denied probation. As Inspector Stanhope begins the reinvestigation of the original crime, it's clear that many in the small town where the murder was committed have a lot of personal secrets and wounds connected to the crime.

What is especially strong about this novel is author Cleeves' ability to present in persuasive detail the perspectives of the dozen or so main characters in the story. These are all rather complex actors with a host of mixed qualities--many of them firmly founded on the seven deadly sins. The protagonist, Vera Stanhope, of course has her own hangups and issues which are flawlessly conveyed throughout the story. With her own complicated emotional life, Stanhope becomes a kind of "seer" when dealing with the suspects and persons of interest connected to the procedural. To the reader's happy frustration, as the Inspector moves closer to resolving the crime through the dogged pursuit of interviews and evidence sorting, the ultimate resolution remains deftly concealed from the reader until the last few pages of the book.

This is an exceptionally good mystery story, told with intelligence and insight into the problems of family dysfunction and small town living. Recommended.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars British author is terrific!, January 10, 2011
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This review is from: Telling Tales (Vera Stanhope 2) (Paperback)
This not to be missed second book in the series. It is a wild ride with a twist that will catch you by surprise.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Inspector Vera Stanhope...a most unusual policewoman..., February 10, 2012
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janebbooks (Jacksonville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Telling Tales (Paperback)
I've read and reviewed the first two of Ann Cleeves' fine Shetland Island mysteries...Raven Black: Book One of the Shetland Island Quartet and White Nights. There's something comforting about reading her books. You know you'll get a great tale...you know you'll read about a interesting part of the world...you know you'll enjoy the characters and the low body count. While Cleeves' mysteries are not cozy...they still comfort. TELLING TALES, the second of the Vera Stanhope series, has already piqued my interest. Here's what's going on:

Ten years ago, Cleeves' narrator Emma discovered the body of her best friend, 15 year old Abigail Mantel. A neighbor Jeanie Long was convicted of the crime and has killed herself in prison after being denied parole. Now there's new evidence of her innocence.

The setting is a small Yorkshire riverfront village where men make their living as pilots and coxswains guiding deep-sea vessels on the major navigable rivers of East Anglia.

Emma and her husband are in church with their young child when Inspector Vera Stanhope of the Northumbria police appears in the story. What an entrance she makes at the close of the first hymn when the back door closes with a bang:

"A large, formidably ugly woman" stood at the back of the church. She wore "a shapeless Crimplene dress covered with small purple flowers and a fluffy purple cardigan. Despite the cold, on her feet she wore flat leather sandals."

She has come as an outsider to revisit the ten-year old murder case of Abigail Mantel.

And if you like to watch your mysteries....a CD of Vera has just been released for Region 1 (US and Canada). Two-time Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn plays the solitary, obsessed, caustic, brilliant, and a bit disheveled Stanhope. Filmed in the Northumberland villages of the original books, the set includes four feature-length, character-driven crime dramas including TELLING TALES.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First-rate psychological suspense!, June 20, 2011
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This review is from: Telling Tales (Paperback)
I'm a big fan of Ann Cleeves' mysteries. I started out with her Shetland Island series and soon became hooked with her writing style. It's clean, crisp, and descriptive. Her characters are realistically drawn and she possesses a rare psychological insight into their motivations. The reader is treated to a glimpse of the "inner life" of each of her major characters. Vera Stanhope, the detective in Telling Tales (book 2 in her Vera series), is a refreshing change from most literary detectives -- male or female. Vera is as sharp as they come; a physically and psychologically formidable woman who exudes tremendous confidence despite her rather bizarre appearance. Tormented by a severe and obvious case of eczema, she does herself no favors by seeming to cull her clothes from what Oxfam refuses to accept. She's a vision of garish color and yards of polyester -- her "uniform" is unchanging, despite the season. No one quite knows what to make of her initially. But woe to the "perp" who underestimates her. Cleeves accords Vera the respect she deserves and brings the reader along on an in-depth ride through an intricate and suspenseful plot and a wonderful array of characters. Like the Crow Trap (Vera 1), Telling Tales is organized in an interesting way. The chapters are grouped into several Parts, which present the story from very different perspectives. Though at times this organizational device seems to move the story along laterally, I find it a fascinating way of viewing the same event from different participants' points of view. Despite the resulting slowing of pace, there is action and suspense strewn throughout. The real strength of Telling Tales is in its psychological insight. It conjures up a kind of in-depth tension that more "action"-oriented works often lack. I recommend this book wholeheartedly. (It's also important to know that you don't have to have read The Crow Trap before enjoying Telling Tales -- but if you like one of them, I'm sure you'll enjoy reading the other, as well.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will probably read again sometime., January 14, 2013
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This was a most interesting read . Very hard to figure out the ending and written in such a way that I could picture the location very well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, April 16, 2011
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This review is from: Telling Tales (Paperback)
Not the best Ann Cleeve book I've ever read, but it was good and a fast read. I recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well plotted murder mystery, October 20, 2013
First book I've read featuring Vera Stanhope and I haven't watched the TV series, so no preconceptions about her!

Ann Cleeves weaves a skilful plot around the murder of a teenage girl and the subsequent suicide of the person charged with her murder. I was immediately drawn in; the story pulls the reader in a number of different directions. Clearly there are people deeply affected by tragic events, but who's got what to hide and why? A diverse collection of characters gave real depth to the plot and kept me guessing right the way through. There's a strong sense of location with sufficient description to place events in a real time and place setting, thereby adding to the sense of this. Being a true life investigation. It's a really well crafted story with sufficient pace to keep the reader engaged from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed the psychological probing. Flawed characters just on the 'normal' boundary make fascinating subjects. I found Vera intelligent, likeable and often amusing. She's colourful without being intrusive and her conflicts, both personal and professional made her very believable.

The pace of the thriller really picks up in the latter third of the book as the strands come together and a real sense of urgency builds in the closing pages. Loved it! Have another couple featuring Vera and looking forward to those. Reading this as a standalone worked well. Happy to recommend.

Copy of my Amazon UK review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All around good read, September 27, 2013
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This review is from: Telling Tales (Paperback)
Any one who enjoys a mystery; any who enjoy a less than perfect detective; any who just enjoys decent writing this book is for you.
Ann Cleeves' Vera series is a lot of fun. The books have tension between the professionals, between the suspects, between the professionals and the suspects, they also have humor and very real human foibles. Good book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Telling Tales, August 10, 2013
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I have so far read all of Ann Cleeves books, as I am addicted to English mysteries, this is a very good one.
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Telling Tales (Vera Stanhope 2)
Telling Tales (Vera Stanhope 2) by Ann Cleeves (Paperback - 2000)
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