Review of THE DARKEST EVENING by Ann Cleeves

Although this is book #9 in the Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves, it is the first book that I have read by this author and can definitely be read as a standalone. Vera is a detective inspector who is headed home in a snow storm, gets turned around and lost in the blowing snow and ends up finding an abandoned car with a baby left alone in the back seat. Rescuing the baby from the elements, Vera heads to the closest house, an estate named Brockburn where her father was raised. The quest for Vera to find the baby’s parent turns into a murder investigation when the body of Lorna Falstone is found in the back yard of the estate. Creepy, full of atmosphere and fast-paced, this book was a magnetic draw for me since I love police procedurals and crime thrillers and this book was the best of both. Vera’s team is called in and Vera’s determination to solve the murder mystery leads to a deep dive into the secrets of the family and the local townspeople. There are rumors, infidelities, and drama galore in this highly entertaining British crime thriller. I really liked the character of Vera Stanhope who reminded me of a female Columbo from the American TV series, frumpy with unexpected insights and no filter on the mouth. This was very humorous at times, especially as Vera unraveled the mystery and got closer to the perpetrator as she waded through numerous suspects. The author did a terrific job of developing each character, including the multiple suspects, in such a way that they were memorable enough for me to keep track of them. Vera also reflects on her own childhood in this story, which was perfect for me since it was my first book about her. I totally enjoyed this book and will absolutely look for more of these in the future!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”
Dealing with murder and secretive family relationships, this book is definitely a PG-13 rating.

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