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Publisher's Summary

Three very different women come together to complete an environmental survey. Three women who, in some way or another, know the meaning of betrayal....

For team leader Rachael Lambert, the project is the perfect opportunity to rebuild her confidence after a double betrayal by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp. Botanist Anne Preece, on the other hand, sees it as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own. And then there is Grace Fulwell, a strange, uncommunicative young woman with plenty of her own secrets to hide....

When Rachael arrives at the cottage, however, she is horrified to discover the body of her friend Bella Furness. Bella, it appears, has committed suicide - a verdict Rachael finds impossible to accept.

Only when the next death occurs does a fourth woman enter the picture - the unconventional Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, who must piece together the truth from these women's tangled lives.

©1999 Ann Cleeves (P)2017 Isis Publishing Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    583
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    348
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    114
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    32
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    25

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    247
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    64
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    17
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    9

Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Worth the Wait

I love this series. I'm pretty skeptical of a female detective novels because I feel like they all fill the same formula. But Vera has always been different. I enjoyed this story in particular because it allowed the main players in the narrative to be fully developed. I liked that we didn't get to hear Vera's voice until the climax. We've heard Vera's background story at nauseum in the earlier books so allowing her character to be a side player rather than the central figure was a refreshing way to progress the story. The plot was slightly unbelievable, but over all it was well worth the credit and kept me guessing until the end.

29 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Vera!

I'm a big Vera fan but had never listened to this one. It's amazing. Well developed characters, proper number of red herrings, and intriguing plot. Loved it!

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Different but loved it

If this is your first Ann Cleeves novel I say skip it and come back to it after you've listened to a few others. It is different than her later works. I enjoyed it very much in spite of the different style. The character development was more extensive and it took longer for Vera to step in. I find these novels quite relaxing to listen too.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The Beginning of Vera

I'm an enthusiastic fan of British mysteries. My local PBS television station airs many of these shows and I watch all of them. That's where I discovered Vera Stanhope. She's a complex character. It took me some time to understand and appreciate her. Now I wouldn't want to miss any of the books in this series.

This book was published in 1999, and I believe was the first of the Vera Stanhope stories. The characters are complex and well developed. The setting is unique. I didn't find the characters quite as compelling as characters in later books, and that's why I gave a 4 rating rather than a 5.

Anne Dover's narration is excellent.

If you enjoy Ann Cleeves writing don't hesitate to get this book.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not a proper mystery

I dislike books where the writer holds back clues to the case and reveals them secretly to the detective only at the end. No reader could possibly figure out the killer because there are no clues in the story. All is revealed by a surprise witness to the detective 20 minutes from the end of the book and then revealed to the reader after the killer is caught 4 minutes prior to the end. Cleeves pulled the same trick in another recent novel that took place in a hotel on Harbour street. Vera' life is always interesting but as far as a mystery goes forget this one. Mike Dunn

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • MR
  • 07-25-17

unexpected

Any additional comments?

I've read/listened to a few of the books in this series (not in any order). This one was not what I expected. Vera - the eponymous detective - didn't show up until the final third of the book.

I enjoyed the story quite a lot, but it wasn't what I expected given the other titles in the series.
Keep an open mind - this is a very good story - well worth the time. The various tales of the researchers are well told and fascinating in their own rights. And, there's a nice chuck of Vera musing on her youth (just be patient)

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Love it

Kept my interest all throughout the book. Would recommend the book looking forward. To the next

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great mystery

Great mystery by Ann, she's one of my favorite mystery writers.
Narration was a bit quick at first ... so had to slow up , to get into story then able to click to normal pace and enjoy the twists!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Carole T.
  • Shepherdstown, WV, United States
  • 04-09-17

Where is Vera?

As a Vera Stanhope fan, I was happy to see this new selection from Audible. The mystery, however, lacked something: Vera and her team. The other characters needed her to bring the story together and to put her unique, rye spin on the plot.

Not up to other Vera books or to Cleeves' standard in general.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating characters

I like Ann Cleeves and I thought this was really interesting, thoughbit dis take me awhile to get really into the story. Some have complained that Vera makes her entrance too late, but once I got used to it I liked the long build-up. The characters were all very interesting and the ending took me by surprise. Great narration too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful