The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves is book 9 in the Vera Stanhope series. This is a series that I love to read. I also enjoy the TV show and Brenda Blethyn’s portrayal of Vera. In The Darkest Evening, Vera finds a child abandoned in a car stuck in a snowdrift. The mother is eventually discovered to have been murdered. Vera and her team work to uncover the murderer, even though there could be a perceived conflict of interest as the murder occurred on the grounds of the Stanhope ancestral home. The murder plot clips along at a good pace with while the novel also gives us more insight into Holly’s life and Vera’s somewhat isolated childhood. The ending had a good twist to it and the case really came together in a believable way. Excellent police procedural mystery read in a great series.
Ruth Rendell’s The Water’s Lovely is more of a psychological study than a mystery read. The primary focus is on two sisters and the long term ramifications of the death of their stepfather. One sister, Ismay, has delusions of herself as “the watchful guardian” of her sister. The other sister, Heather, is infinitely more practical and faces the world head on. Their relationships cracks as each sister begins her own serious relationship. Ismay’s fantastical self absorption, that she reframes as concern for Hannah’s boyfriend, Edmund, becomes a focus. The plot interweaves storylines about both the men in their lives, the actions and death of the stepfather, and a grifter who targets the elderly. I do like Ruth Rendell’s writing. There is a developed sense of menace and you can sense from reading the first few pages that tings will not end well. However, this just seemed too long, too drawn out and just being too convoluted. I would still give this three starts because the actual character developments, the tension building at places, and individual scenes are so well done.