BODIES being found on beaches and girls disappearing from community arts centres are not typically part of the idyllic lifestyle that lures sea-changers to the North Devon coastline where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet.
For Matthew Venn, however, proximity to murder and abduction is the unavoidable downside of being a detective.
Freshly returned from honeymooning with his new husband, Jonathan, Venn is one of the first investigators called in when a corpse is discovered only a few hundred metres from the couple’s cottage.
It’s a horrible escalation of an already-difficult day for Venn, who has had to stand alone outside the chapel of the local crematorium during his estranged father’s funeral service.
Now, when he should be starting to unwind over dinner, he has an unexplained stabbing almost literally on his doorstep.
Although the victim is identified quickly, neither of the man’s former housemates is able to provide any worthwhile clues as to why he might have been targeted. He is remembered as a rather reclusive introvert who shared little with those around him aside from a restaurant-quality home-cooked meal every Friday.
And for Venn, the complications don’t end there. When a developmentally challenged young woman vanishes after spending an afternoon at the cultural facility that Jonathan manages, the conscientious police officer wonders whether he should recuse himself for the sake of propriety from handling the enquiry. Is he at risk of becoming dangerously close to this case?
With one person dead and another missing, Venn and his small team in the pretty village of Barnstaple are being stretched almost to the point of snapping.
The Long Call is the debut novel in Ann Cleeves’ new British crime-fighting series, introduced when she chose to step away from Shetland as a setting after the release of her eight – and, for now, final – Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez book.