The long call by Ann Cleeves

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Two Rivers book 1. PanMacmillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781509889570.
(Age: Adult - Senior secondary) Recommended. Themes: Mystery and suspense, Detectives, Down syndrome. Fans of the Vera and Shetland series are in for a real treat with Cleeves' new series starring Detective Matthew Ven a quiet introspective man who is leading a team in North Devon. When a man with an albatross tattooed on his neck is found dead on the beach, Ven finds himself uncovering secrets from his past and present. Then a young woman with Down syndrome disappears and Ven has more than one mystery to solve.
Cleeves builds up a slow, comprehensive picture of Matthew Ven, his background as a child in The Brethren, a strict evangelical community, his subsequent denial of that community and his gradual coming to terms with himself. The beaches and dunes, small villages and The Woodyard, a place for disabled and mentally impaired people, are all described meticulously and the reader gets to know the area very well.
The long call is a character driven novel. Not only does the reader get to know Matthew, but Jonathon his partner. The two detectives who are Matthew's off-siders, Jen and Ross, each have strengths and weaknesses as detectives and as people and their background stories are fleshed out as well. The women, Lucy, Christine and Rosa, all who have Down syndrome, are portrayed sympathetically and in depth and play an important role in the story.
Cleeves wraps everything up neatly; the reader is able to reflect back on the clues that she cleverly put into her narrative, but which are easily overlooked. A very satisfying beginning to a series, which will be sure to have many followers in the future.
Pat Pledger