By Ann Cleeves
(374 pages, mystery, 2019)
We first meet Detective Matthew Venn standing outside of the church where his father’s funeral is taking place. He is sure that he is not welcome inside. Matthew grew up in a strict evangelical family; they belonged to the Barum Brethren. When he rejected the church as a young man, he was ostracized. Matthew gets a call from work. A man’s body has been found on the beach. He has no ID on him, but has a distinctive tattoo – an albatross on his neck. The victim had been a volunteer at the Woodyard. The Woodyard is a community center. It’s a daycare center for adults with learning disabilities, a café, and people can take art classes there. It’s a place to meet and talk to others. Matthew’s husband, Jonathan, manages the Woodyard. Matthew is worried that he is too close to the case, but is encouraged to continue with it. Then Christine, a young developmentally disabled woman, is kidnapped. Christine used to go to the Woodyard. Matthew is sure that the murder and the kidnapping are connected. People close to the victim and other suspects linked to the Woodyard are acting strangely. There’s no clear motive at first. Matthew must untangle the clues and sort out the group of suspects. It’s very difficult because some of these people are from a world Matthew had left behind. Is he too close to the crime? The killer and the motive in this mystery are very well hidden in this tale.
Ann Cleeves is the author of the Vera and Shetland series, popular with both readers and television viewers. This is a welcome new series, and Matthew Venn is a sympathetic and determined detective.
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