- Book: The Darkest Evening
- Location: Northumberland
- Author: Ann Cleeves
This is no. 9 in the Vera Stanhope series and will beautifully transport you to wild Northumberland, just a few days before Christmas. Vera is driving her old Land Rover through heavily snowed upon roads when she comes across a car run off the road. A small child is still in its car seat in the back but there is no sign of the care giver. Vera, immediately honing her detective nose, surmises it must be a woman because the driver’s seat is pulled close up to the steering wheel so it mis be someone on the small side. She takes the child to the nearest house, which turns out to be Brockburn, where a dinner party is in full swing. The inhabitants of the grand but crumbling estate happen to be Vera’s relatives but they are the posh side of the family.
There is a moment of discombobulation as both parties take in the situation. The first step is to find the owner of the car, and it transpires it is registered to an older woman, who could not possibly be the parent of the child. The mystery grows until the body of a young woman is discovered, not far from the house. The young woman has history, the house has history and so do the occupants….
The author is excellent at creating a setting, against which she weaves a well-penned murder mystery. You can wonderfully imagine curmudgeonly and scruffy Vera, as she spots the clues with acuity, her hat pulled firmly down on her head. There is also the very popular TV series to complement the books, so there is no excuse not to visit Northumberland in some shape or form – and in person you will be bowled over by the beautiful county.