The raging storm by Ann Cleeves

cover image

The third book in the Two Rivers series, following The long call  and The heron’s cry, sees the return of Detective Inspector Matthew Venn and his two off-siders, Jen Rafferty and Ross May, this time investigating the murder of Jem Roscoe, a celebrity sailor, who has been found in a boat anchored in Scully Cove. The local Greystone lifeboat team had been called out in a raging storm answering a mayday call and found his body. Jem, a local celebrity sailor and adventurer, had arrived in town, telling the townspeople that he was waiting for a mystery visitor. And it is up to Venn to find out who that was and why Jem was murdered.

Cleeves’ setting on the Devon coast, with its violent storms, high seas and tall cliffs, and superstitions surrounding Scully Cove, is described vividly and adds to the brooding atmosphere of the mystery. Matthew Venn is a quiet man, described in a work appraisal as lacking charisma, but one who immerses himself in the background characters and geography surrounding the murder victim. He is uncomfortable in Greystone, a town he had visited in his youth, and one that is populated with the Brethen, the sect that he has left behind, but he knows that he could find the motive for the murder by investigating Jem’s past. With help from his team, Venn gradually uncovers clues that help unravel the mystery surrounding the death and when another man is found dead in Scully Cove, it is apparent that the two are connected.

Readers will need to connect subtle red herrings to work out how the murders were committed and who killed the victims, making the story enjoyable. The series does not fall into the cosy category but is not dark enough to make some readers uncomfortable. Cleeves writes clever and atmospheric mysteries and The raging storm is sure to please her fans.

Themes: Murder, Detectives, Secrets, Devon.

Pat Pledger