The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves – a review

Of all the books I’ve bought in preparation for the TOPCWFC, this was one that I’d put right to the top of the pile. I haven’t read any other Ann Cleeves books before. However we have recently bought tickets for the murder mystery night at the festival and it is based around the setting in this book so I definitely wanted to read it before I went .

The Glass Room provided a nice bit of a respite from the usual blood and gore favourites I’ve been devouring recently as I suspect this is one of the books that Waterstones bookshop would classify as ‘cosy crime’. Vera Stanhope (of the tv fame ‘Vera’) is asked to try and find her missing neighbour. The neighbour is quickly tracked down to the Writers House. This is a country house retreat for aspiring authors and will also be the setting for our murder mystery dinner. One of the tutors of the event is murdered and Joanne the neighbour looks like the prime suspect. Another murder happens and secrets start being revealed.

I enjoyed this read very much. It put me in mind of a modern day Agatha Christie, with murders happening left right and centre but with a nice country background. I felt the story was almost a classic whodunit, relying on detective intuition to solve the crime rather than lengthy forensics and procedurals often favoured by crime writers (and readers!) The story had a number of twists and red herrings, however at no point did I guess the culprit. The clues I suspect were there though, just too subtle to be noticed (or maybe it was just me that missed them, it wouldn’t be the first time)

My only criticism is not actually about the book or the writing. It is about the character of Vera Stanhope. She is played on tv by Brenda Blethyn, and I have enjoyed the tv show. However, it meant that when I read the book, in my head I heard Vera as she is on tv. If I’m honest I’m not completely sure that it fits with the Vera of the written word. It is only a very minor point though, and one I always think is a problem if you first watch rather than read a story.

I like the way that Ann Cleeves writes, and I thought that her descriptions of both people and the area they lived in seemed very believable. Again though this was slightly coloured by having seen the tv show. The remoteness of the area is captured in the writing, and I would be interested to read some more work by the author, especially those I believe are set in the Shetland Isles.

Overall I thought this was a good book, and think the evening is going to be great fun.

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Filed under book review, crime fiction, Theakstons Festival

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