BOOK CLUB: The Long Call

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By Ann Cleeves

ISBN: 9781760787974
Imprint: Macmillan

Thankyou to Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read The Long Call by Ann Cleeves.


Ann Cleeves has written many novels and is the creator of Vera Stanhope (Vera) and Jimmy Perez (Shetland). Both of which have been used to create TV series. The Long Call is the first book of The Two Rivers series, and I have no doubt it too will become a TV series.

The book is set in North Devon where the River Taw and the River Torridge flow into the Atlantic Ocean. The descriptiveness Anne Cleeves uses makes you feel as if you are right there and can see the landscape and hear the cry of the herring gulls.  The sound the herring gulls make, naturalists have named “the  long call”, this sounds to Matthew Venn sound like “an inarticulate howl of pain – the noises of home.”

Detective Matthew Venn is the lead character in this book. His family are devout members of the Brethren. While at university he chooses a different path, estranging him from his family. After many years away from Barnstaple he has returned to work and live there with his husband Jonathan.

The other detectives in his team are DC Jen Rafferty a single mum with teenagers. DC Ross May, the DCI’s golden boy. All three are interesting characters.

Matthew Venn is standing outside the North Devon Crematorium listening  to the funeral service  for his Father. He receives a call that a man has been found murdered on the beach. The murdered man was a volunteer at the Woodyard.

The Woodyard is a hub for the community. It is a day centre for disabled adults, provides art and craft classes and runs a café. The Woodyard is managed by Jonathan, Matthew’s husband. The Woodyard becomes the link in the murder investigation, making thigs complicated for Matthew.

The book is a murder mystery and as the plot unfolds it becomes a gripping read. You want to get to the end to see how it all links together and understand all the twists and turns the investigation takes to solve the murder.

The book cleverly addresses community acceptance and non acceptance towards gay marriage and disabled and mentally challenged people.

Loved the book, it is a great read, thoroughly recommend it.

15 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, you can read their reviews in the comments section below. Or, if you have read it we welcome you to contribute to the discussion.

13 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Long Call

  1. I’ve never read an Ann Cleaves novel before, but as an avid crime fiction reader I was excited to get started.

    Matthew, the main character, is complex with hidden depth, and I believe, strong morals and values. I am looking forward to learning more about him and his tenacity of spirit following a complex upbringing. The story did seem a little drawn out at one point, but when I finished the book, I realised all of those storyline’s were necessary to the plot.

    Overall, a good read, I’m considering starting the Shetland books because of this one but there’s so many on my TBR list already!

    Thank you for the opportunity to read and review.

  2. The Long Call by Ann Cleeves is the first book I have read by this author.

    Matthew Venn is a detective who has returned to his home town after years away, but is estranged from his family.

    A body is found on the beach near Matthew’s home and the investigation becomes very involved with people in the community he grew up with.

    The story has several twists, showing every community has secrets, and prejudices.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more from this author.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace, and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  3. As a lover of crime fiction I was excited to read this book, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. I’ve never read Ann Cleeves before, but I enjoyed this book so much that I intend to go back and read her previous novels.

    In The Long Call, Cleeves introduces a new protagonist in Matthew Venn, who was quite interesting and different to many of the typical detective type characters I’ve read in the past. He is a cautious and introverted man that seems to lack confidence in himself in many ways, despite being very good at his work and well respected by his peers.

    The setting of the book is beautifully described by Cleeves (as well as well evoked by the gorgeous cover image) and the small town feel is well captured wuth the wide array of characters that all have links and overlaps, in the normal way of rural living.

    I won’t spoil the story, but if you enjoy crime fiction and stories with multiple layers that are difficult to predict, this is a great choice! Highly recommended.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and PanMacmillan for the opportunity to review.

  4. This book grabs the reader right from the get go. The first page introduces Matthew Venn a detective who is on the outskirts of his fathers funeral, not able to go inside the chapel to say his final farewell due to having been cast out of his family because of there religious beliefs.

    Matthew has returned to live in North Deven with his Husband Johnathan. While at his father funeral Matthew gets a call that a body of a man has been found stabbed to death near Matthews new home, a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck..

    During the investigation Matthew soon realizes that the murdered man is closely connected to the The Woodyard a community centre for the disabled and mentally impaired that his husband Johnathan runs.

    The Long Call is the first book in a new series by Ann Cleeves, it is a compelling read with lots of characters and plots which are well interwoven.

    Detective Matthew Venn has his own demons to deal with, his self confidence is one but also
    working with the community that has treated him as an outcast for many years.

    The story sensitively touches on the issues of Down Syndrome, mental heath,sexual and mental abuse.
    I love this new series and cant wait to read the next book. I read this book in 2 days and could not put it down,needed to know who the murderer was. Highly recommend this book

    Thank you Beauty and Lace

  5. Thank you Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read The Long Call by author, Ann Cleeves. I am sometimes a sceptical reader of crime mysteries but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel by Ann Cleeves. I found the depth of construction of the characters traits and their emotions, the description of the environment by the author added to the believable, story that was carefully built upon from page 1. I found myself intrigued and wanting to read more and quickly but the way that Ann Cleeves seemed to have carefully weaved the story around many characters and events ensured that I read it carefully. I would certainly recommend The Long Call by Ann Cleeves and be looking out for any future books in this series.

  6. Like some other members I had not read any of Ann Cleeves books before but after reading this.book I have looked to where I can source the next book for my TRL.
    I throughly enjoyed The Long Call. the characters were easy to follow as there were not too many as in some books.
    I particularly liked Matthew Venn who had returned to his home town as a Detective. After being estranged from his family he returned in time to witness his fathers funeral.
    Matthew has lots of insecurities many which were helped along by his mother. So when he is put in charge of a murder Matthew is confronted by much of the small community from which he had escaped
    Matthew and his team work the community to find the culprit and I admit I got it wrong several times before finishing this book.
    Highly recommended. Thankyou Beautyandlace. Pannmacmillan and Ann Cleeves.

  7. Ann Cleeves is amazing. She has started The Two Rivers series of beautifully.
    We are introduced to Matthew Venn in a casual, cool and friendly tone. As a reader I connected with Matthew, I follower where the story was going and I found myself becoming drawn into the depths of the story very quickly.
    Ann has created a new and wonderful set of characters, environment and stations to take the story through some amazing twists and terns. From the beginning I was making assumptions, second guessing my ideas and unsure how the story was going to unravel.
    Matthew is a complicated man with list of attributes that both create engagement in The Longest Call and spark interest in learning more about him personally as the series progresses. Luckily Matthews husband Jonathan ground him and provides a strong buffer when it comes to work and home life.
    Quickly the main story leads both Matthew and Jonathan into a series of twists and turns between past and present events and people and leaves Matthew second guessing whether the case is too close to Jonathan’s work and Matthews up bringing.
    As the story unfolds about a seemingly drunken, homeless man being murdered cracks begin to form in the foundations with the people around him before his deaths.. Kidnappings of fragile and trusting members of the local community also adds confusion and drama to the story line. Soon everyone is drawing at a range of short straw scenarios until slowly the story begins to unravel and we learn the secrets hidden behind closed doors.
    Ann has created another masterpiece and I am very grateful for the opportunity to read this novel.

  8. I’ve just finished reading The Long Call and overall I really enjoyed it to.

    It was a new author and new genre for me so I wasn’t sure what to expect going in.

    The setting was brooding and the characters interesting. The twists and turns until the very end kept my interest and I found it hard to put down.

    Being the first in the series I’m looking forward to the next case that Matthew Venn takes on as I’m sure it will be just as interesting.

  9. I enjoy a good murder mystery and Ann Cleeve’s didn’t disappoint me with The Long Call.
    The story was easy to engage with and as it unfolded and the characters were built I developed a clear picture of them and their environment.
    While the focus was on the main character Matthew Venn and his efforts to solve a murder, various social issues were interwoven, including disability and the vulnerabilities of disabled community members, sexual preferences and intolerance of difference, and power imbalances in relationships and within society. An interesting story line which kept me engaged until the end.
    An easy to read and thoroughly immersible novel! I am looking forward to the next release by Ann Cleeves.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read and review this novel.

  10. Thank you to the Beauty and Lace Book Club and Pan Macmillan for my free copy to review.
    I don’t read a lot of Murder Mysteries, but I absolutely loved this book. I felt that the book was so much more than a whodunnit. It was a character study, full of interesting people and their complexities. I loved that Ann Cleeves showed that a lot of human behaviour is unquestioned, unconscious and habitual (prejudices so ingrained that we are no longer really aware of them). And of how we all, in our own way, try to dull (or ignore) pain rather than face it. It’s also a book about redemption and of mending past hurts.

    There were no “baddies” or “shining heroes”. Every character in this book has their fault and flaws as well as good in them. Many people who do “bad things” do them for “good reasons”, and even if they feel guilt, still manage to self-justify. Which is the way of human-nature.

    My favourite character was Lucy, and I wish there was a Woodyards near me, I would love to spend time there. The writing and the pace of the book was perfect, I had a hard time putting the book down.

    In this book there was a lot of character study and description of the towns. I do hope that level of detail continues in the next installments (and it wasn’t just world-building). I would love to get to know more of Matthew, Jonathon, Jen and Ross, and I do hope Lucy and Maurice make and appearance in future novels.

  11. A murder/abduction mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end. Ann Cleeves says at the beginning that she is nervous to bring a new main character into her repertoire. But I have to say he is likeable, personable and layered like her other famous leading characters. If you are a fan of Vera and Shetland you will love The Long Call.

  12. There’s nothing better than a gripping murder mystery full of complicated and flawed characters set against an evocative landscape with a few challenging themes and some fabulous twists and turns. Ann Cleeves’ The Long Call has all of this and more and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Can’t wait to read the second in the series, and will definitely check out her earlier work now too.

  13. Thank you Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read The Long Call by Ann Cleeves. I don’t usually read crime novels, so this was slightly different for me.

    Ann Cleeves uses words beautifully to describe the area where the story is set. I could almost hear the gulls and hear the surf.

    There are many twists and turns in this story, and it will keep you guessing to the very end. A very enjoyable read, and recommended to others who enjoy a good murder/mystery.

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