Fans of the Vera Stanhope novels already available in the U.S., as well as the TV series Vera, will welcome Cleeves’s intricate series opener (first published in 1998), which introduced the Northumberland detective inspector. Three very different women—team leader Rachael Lambert, botanist Anne Preece, and mammal expert Grace Fulwell—are conducting an environmental impact assessment to estimate the damage that a new quarry would do to a national park’s pristine land and wildlife. When a suicide and a murder rock the project, Vera must sift through the murk to catch a ruthless killer. Though it offers a fine mystery, the story nevertheless belongs to its women. Cleeves thoroughly explores the passions and motivations of each, while exposing the human greed and sorrow beneath the bucolic landscape. The Columbo-esque Vera, who hides a fierce intelligence and razor sharp instincts under garish clothing, uses every tool at her disposal to solve the crime. Agent: Sarah Menguc, Sarah Menguc Literary Agent (U.K.). (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2016 Release date: 02/21/2017 Genre: Fiction
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