Harbour Street by Ann Cleeves
Only a year after the release of a new Shetland mystery featuring Jimmy Perez, Ann Cleeves has a new book featuring Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, Harbour Street.
Vera is much the same as always – she’s lost a little weight at her doctor’s suggestion and feels better for it. It is almost Christmas – not a time of year that Vera looks forward to. Alone, she envies those who have a family, watching her colleague Detective Joe Ashworth preparing for Christmas. But it is Joe, Christmas shopping with his daughter, Jessie who literally stumbles across a murder on the Metro. It is a snowy evening and the train must empty before the end of the line – leaving an attractive woman in her seventies apparently still sitting in her place.
Not at all unhappy to have these last pre-Christmas days filled with a murder investigation Vera takes charge. The woman, Margaret Krukowski, lived at the end of Harbour Street in a house now operating as a bed and breakfast. Owned by Kate Dewar, who lives there with her teenage children, Chloe and Ryan. Margaret had lived there before Kate bought the house, in a flat in the attic, and she stayed on working for Kate cleaning and cooking, an arrangement that seemed to suit them both. It is only when Margaret is killed that her story emerges – assumptions are found to be false, and it is only when the memories of the long time residents of the small town of Martle are awakened that long held secrets begin to be revealed.
Ann Cleeves is a very practiced writer who is able to perfectly plot her story, filling in the investigation with bits and pieces of the lives of her long-standing characters. We’ve come to care for Vera and Joe after reading the five earlier novels in this series and in Harbour Street we see a Vera more aware of her role as mentor to the younger members of her team, and more aware of her own loneliness and the lack of love in her life. I wonder if it is time for Ann Cleeves to introduce an interesting (and nice) man into Vera’s life – I’d like to see her experience the comfort of a satisfying relationship – it can move slowly, as I think it must for Vera who will not trust easily and will fear that a man’s attention might be insincere. Vera puts on a tough front but her heart is soft.