cover image The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel

The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel

Ann Cleeves. Minotaur, $29 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-83684-7

The murder of an employee at a home for troubled youth triggers a search for a missing girl in bestseller Cleeves’s forceful 11th Vera Stanhope mystery (after The Rising Tide). When 14-year-old Rosebank Home resident Chloe Spence vanishes the same night that somebody kills Rosebank employee Josh Woodburn, Det. Insp. Stanhope and her Northumbria Police colleagues suspect a connection. The facility houses particularly troubled teens, so some of Stanhope’s colleagues believe Chloe attacked Josh and fled. However, Chloe’s diary indicates she adored Josh; it also mentions someone “pervy” loitering outside the facility, suggesting to police that Chloe was more likely a frightened witness to Josh’s killing. Vera and her team start digging, hoping to find a clue that will lead them to Chloe. Instead, they discover a second corpse in nearby Northumberland that raises even more questions. Cleeves portrays Rosebank’s kids and its staffers with compassion and respect, even as she spotlights the pitfalls of a for-profit approach to child welfare. Multiple narrators and a core cast of keenly rendered characters lend the tale dimension while furthering the series arc. Cleeves’s fans will be well satisfied. (Aug.)