Sunday, May 27, 2007

Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves

Ten years ago the body of 15 year old Abigail Mantel was discovered by her best friend Emma Winter. Now the woman jailed for her murder is found dead in her cell and doubt is thrown on her conviction. Inspector Vera Stanhope is brought in to re-open the investigation and find out who really did kill Abigail? As this tale, told from the viewpoints of several characters unfolds, begins to unfold out comes all the little secrets being kept by members of this tiny Yorkshire village. Just who is hiding what?

I must admit I avoid non-historical crime fiction as a rule. I tend not be interested in reading about the here and now. The reason I read this book was that its the book we've been given to read at the reading group I belong to.

Despite the fact I don't usually read books like this I found it easy to read and quite enjoyed it. There were plenty of twists and turns, blinds and tasty secrets unrelated to the case. It was well constructed and kept my interest throughout. So much so in fact that I polished this book off in a day. I have to even admit that the person who turned out to be the murderer was one of the people I hadn't fingered for it in the course of reading!

It did take me a little while to get used to the constant change in perspective. Sometimes the story is being told by Emma Bennett (nee Winter), sometimes by Michael Long (father of the accused), and even sometimes by Vera Stanhope (the investigating officer). I don't usually like this style but Cleeves some how prevents it from being clunky. Instead it adds extra dimensions to the story as it unfolds. It also tries to deal with the emotions and aftermath of such situations which many crime dramas I watch on TV fail to do, such as Michael Long's reaction to his daughter's conviction. The relationship between Emma and James Bennett is also very interesting and makes you realise that there are many different types of marital relationships out there.

The story was easy to get into and didn't overwhelm the reader with endless description. The story moves at a good pace and I didn't find it patronising or overly simplistic. It certainly felt like a gentle introduction to the modern crime fiction genre.

I would recommend this to anyone who like me has not taken the leap into modern crime fiction or crime fiction full stop. Hardened crime enthusiasts may find this book a little too gentle.

*3 stars*


Archie said...

I feel compelled to say, I enjoy the open and friendly approach you use on your blog

Self Confessed Walkover said...

Thank you so much for the feedback Archie, it is very much appreciated :)