The Long Call

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

By Ann Cleeves

avg rating

4 reviews

Sunday Times bestselling author of the Shetland and Vera Stanhope series, Ann Cleeves returns with the first in a brand new series set in North Devon and featuring Detective Matthew Venn. In this rural idyll, where two rivers meet, crime is always there waiting to rise from the water.


09 Sep 2019


This is the latest book from Ann Cleeves and she is introducing a new character, Matthew Venn. Although this is a good story the main character is a bit bland and too serious, not as interesting as her previous characters, Vera Stanhope and the lovely Jimmy Perez. It may be because this was his introductory novel, and he will develop as time goes on. I would certainly read any future books involving him and his sidekick, Jen, who is already a very likeable character, with her hectic homelife and interesting backstory.

Well worth reading - I think you will enjoy it.

08 Sep 2019

Oundle Library's Crime Fiction Book Group

I was a die-hard fan of the Shetland series and was pretty devastated when it was announced that Ann Cleeves had written the last book about Jimmy Perez. I wondered how she'd be able to create a new character and series to measure up to Shetland in terms of stories and character but I needn't have worried.

The protagonise of The Long Call is DI Matthew Venn, who has recently returned to live on the North Devon coast with his husband, Jonathan, who runs a local arts and community centre. Venn left the area many years before, abandoning the religious community in which he grew up and breaking with his family. He’s trying to settle into a new job and build a new life back in North Devon when a body is discovered on the beach near his home.

It takes a while to identify the victim and as the case progresses the dead man is found to have had connections to the centre which Jonathan manages, and even Venn’s family. The case is complex and Venn has to dig deep into the community and the lives of people he knew when he was growing up. Added to the pressure of running his first major case in his new job, dark secrets must be unravelled – not without danger to Venn himself.

Everyone in our book group was delighted that Ann Cleeves has created another believable and human cast of characters. Venn is full of insecurities – professional and personal – and sometimes seems too vulnerable to be a senior policeman. But he’s determined and dogged, and worries away at clues until he’s resolved them.

A few of our group said that when they’d started this book, they’d wondered if Cleeves was just trying to be 'woke' by making Venn gay, and married. But it didn’t take them long to change their minds because he's written as a strong, solid character and although his homosexuality is mentioned often, it seemed irrelevant.

This is, of course, the first in a new series, so we’re bound to find out more about Matthew (and Jonathan) over time. Some of us thought they were an odd couple, Matthew being uptight and nervy, and Jonathan almost too nice and good to be true. But both of them have interesting backstories and who knows how these will be explored in new plots? There are other characters, like Venn’s police colleagues, who will no doubt be developed in later books as well.

This story gets under your skin. Compared to many crime fiction novels it's gently paced but you don't want to put it down. All of us felt it was a really satisfying read and we hope it's the first of many books about this character and location.

06 Sep 2019


I was delighted that Ann Cleeves has created a new detective. Hopefully, means there will be more to read. Thoroughly enjoyed this novel, lots of twists and turns that kept me guessing who the guilty were and made for a read that I couldn't put down.

01 Sep 2019


The Long Call – the cry of a herring gull – is the first in a new detective series by the author of the Vera TV series. If you like detective stories, in the style of PD James and Ruth Rendell, then you will enjoy reading this book.

It’s a bit of a dense plot, and slow to start off, but once things pick up the story is attention-grabbing and has lots of potential murder suspects. There are a number of characters to keep track of – all with various motives for the killing, including the main character, Detective Matthew Venn’s, husband.

On Google, I see that ITV has indeed picked up the series for their crime/drama programs. It does read a bit like a screen play in parts. There are lots of descriptions and I found that made the story drag slightly, but not enough to put me off.

This is a great read if you just want to be taken away by a book. I liked reading The Long Call and it is a page-turner. The story kept me entertained and I will probably pick up the next book in the series when it is published.

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