OK, I like Vera Stanhope, the overweight, middle-aged, opinionated, bossy, disheveled, irascible, and frequently insensitive protagonist in Ann Cleeves' Vera Stanhope series. There is also a softer side to Vera, however, that reveals her attachment to her team and that allows her to sit down with witnesses for a cuppa and persuade them to open up. A softer side that Vera, herself, doesn't really acknowledge. She isn't one for introspection.
Although I like Vera's character, Cleeves' treatment of secondary characters, meticulous plotting, and love of the Northumberland coast all combine to make this series one of my favorites.
The Seagull continues developing the characters, but also adds some backtracking as the plot involves characters and situations reaching into the past. Vera finds herself enmeshed with memories of a younger Vera, her late father Hector, and three of his friends. She isn't certain what the investigation will turn up regarding Hector, but it doesn't stop her from pursuing the truth and untangling the secrets that have had two decades to cloud the picture. With so many shady characters, it isn't easy to determine the villain responsible for crimes that occurred twenty years ago.
Joe, Holly, and Charlie always take a backseat to the boss, but each one is intriguing in his or her own right and all three show further development in The Seagull.
Cleeves also writes the Shetland Island series featuring Jimmy Perez. I've enjoyed several books from that series as well.
NetGalley/St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books
Mystery/Police Procedural. Sept. 5, 2017. Print length: 416 pages.