procedural series by Ann Cleeves. Set in North Devon, Detective Matthew Venn has returned to the area where he grew up and is involved in solving a murder which keeps threatening to become entangled in his difficult past as well as his present life.
Ms. Cleeves is a masterful storyteller and her characterizations are nuanced and deftly rendered. The dialogue is pitch perfect but never intrusive to my ears (and it could so easily have been over the top). The plotline revolves around a community centre for the county which hosts programs for people struggling with mental illness, depression, and developmental delays as well as functioning as an arts instruction and social centre for the members of the community. The author's characterizations are sensitive and non-judgemental. The sense of place and atmosphere are so well done. It's a characteristic of her work that the setting actually becomes a significant character in the narrative and this series is no exception.
This was a joy to read, despite the potentially sad themes of mental illness and exploitation. The author is an exceedingly gifted craftsman and the plotting and pacing here are things of beauty. For non-UK readers, the slang and language are British idiom, but there's nothing undecipherable in context. The language is PG, there's no graphic sexual content.
Five stars. A strong start to a new series with an appealing procedural unit set in an interesting area of the English coastal countryside. I'm very much looking forward to more in this series.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes