The Long Call by Ann Cleeves #bookreview

A couple of weeks ago I read The Long Call, the first in a new series by Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera and Shetland series. This is the first book by Ann Cleeves which I’ve read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


The Long Call is the captivating first novel in the Two Rivers series from Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.


The Long Call is a deeply engrossing story by Ann Cleeves. Set along the North Devon coastline, the body of a man with a stab wound is found on the beach. As Detective Matthew Venn takes a closer look into the past few weeks leading up to the man’s death, he uncovers some disturbing facts. As Matthew unpeels the layers of the victim’s life, it seems as though there is something a lot more sinister going on, and Matthew is determined to stop it.

This is the first case for Detective Matthew Venn and the first novel in a brand new series for Ann Cleeves. This book had long been on my radar before it was published, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to read it as soon as I did. Shamefully I’ve never read a book by Ann Cleeves before, but I will be rectifying that after reading her latest. I’m also sure that this book will win her an army of new fans.

The Long Call is a slow-burner. It does, however, develop into a highly engrossing, character-driven read. Matthew Venn is a character who has suffered in the past, mainly at the hands of his family. The opening of the novel sees him attending his father’s funeral but at a distance. We can see that there is an animosity there between him and his relatives, chiefly down to religious matters which initially caused their split. I did feel sorry for him. You can see that he wants to make amends with his family, but they appear to be less willing to do so.

There is a complicated life attached to the victim, which Matthew has to unpick as the investigation into his death gets underway. There is also a connection to a community arts centre where the victim may have volunteered. I really liked how Ann Cleeves attached different strands to the investigation, which kept me thinking along the way. Until everything comes together in the end, you really don’t know how Ann Cleeves is going to bring about that full circle that makes everything clear.

There are some characters here who will get under your skin. I thought this particularly about Matthew’s family and the company they kept. The novel does explore how a belief can take its hold over a person, and even turn them against their own family.

Matthew Venn is a character who Ann Cleeves has brought to life really well in the first book in this series. I also liked the strong visual imagery which captured the North Devon landscape; it made me feel as though I was there.

A strong start to a new series, the Two Rivers series is one I’ll be keen to follow.

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication date: 5th September 2019

Print length: 384 pages

If you would like to purchase The Long Call, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones