The Long Call

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

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By Ann Cleeves

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10 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.


14 Jan 2020

Dornoch Academy Reading Group

Slightly mixed reviews from our group but on the whole fairly positive. Reviews below.

Really enjoyed this novel. Main characters appealed to me. The plot intrigued me and I couldn’t put it down till I understood the mystery of Simon Walden.

We are introduced to a new detective Mathew Venn in North Devon. He quickly becomes an interesting, engaging character and his colleagues also add to the mix. The landscape comes alive and this is a powerful start of a new series that I am sure will be adapted for television for satisfying Sunday night viewing. Can’t wait for the next book.

Very good start, good character descriptions. Ending very brief – lot of build-up and tension. The book may appeal to a wider audience as it is more contemporary than some of the usual crime novels.

I haven’t read any of Ann Cleeves books before so this was a first for me. It was much better than I expected and overall I thought it was pretty good. Will definitely read the next one when it comes out

It took me a while to get into this book – I think because it’s the first of a projected series. It is interesting that the main protagonist is a gay married man - very P.C. in todays’ world and I felt a bit obvious – the word husband occurs so many times in the book I felt that I was getting a poke with a big stick and a neon sign saying, “See how with the times I can be!!” Overall I enjoyed the book but I felt it dragged in the middle then rushed the denouement at the end. Also felt some of the reveals and plot arc were a bit unrealistic. But I do think it will make a great T.V. series which is what I feel Ann Cleeves has in mind…

I was a bit disappointed by the book, the storyline in particular I felt was a bit too contrived. There seemed to be too many connections between the individuals, unrealistically so. Whilst the plot was okay, there was not much prior development of the murderer beforehand, so there wasn’t the fun of trying to figure out “Who done it”. Also the motive for the murderer was very obscure and again, seemed unrelated to the storyline.

Was delighted to get the opportunity to read the first book in a new series by Ann Cleeves. As always, it didn’t disappoint and I enjoyed getting to know detective Matthew Venn and his team and enjoyed the plot. Hooked from the first sentence and looking forward to the next book.

10 Jan 2020


A most thought-provoking word, with her usual characterisation - welcome back to Matthew Venn and his crew. I, as always, enjoyed thoroughly it but please don't forget The Shetlands.

01 Oct 2019


Really enjoyed this book - lots of threads to the plot and an interesting array of complex and credible individuals. Cleeves excels at bringing the environment to life whilst keeping you turning the pages frantically to find out 'whodunnit' The main character is quite a bit different to Jimmy and Vera and altho a slower burn delightful in his own unique ways.

I can easily see this being convertible to a tv series and look forward to the next book featuring Mathew.

Would highly recommend

01 Oct 2019


I felt that this book was setting the scene for a television series rather than a book with very rounded characters. I think if there had been more concentration on fewer characters there would be more empathy. Apart from that it was a good read with lots of intrigue and red herrings and could imagine it as a six part drama. I will read the second book as I am sure there there will be a follow up and I may reread the first before I do that.

28 Sep 2019

This is the first Ann Cleeves book that I have read. I have never watched Shetland or Vera so did not have any expectations from the author. This was a well -written book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The plot kept me guessing all the way through. The Detective, Matthew Venn was a likeable character as were the other police characters. I look forward to the next book in the series.

25 Sep 2019


Ann Cleeves has done it again. I thought she could do no better than Jimmy Perez or Vera Stanhope but her new detective Matthew Venn is very promising indeed. What looks like it's going to be a simple murder mystery becomes much more convoluted and interesting. The supporting characters are incredibly interesting in their own right as well. I do hope this is the beginning of another series that holds up and becomes another BBC staple. I enjoy Cleeves' way with dialogue and descriptions. I recommend this for everyone.

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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