THE CROW TRAP by Ann Cleeves
Secrets and betrayal – so often the stuff of a good mystery. Cleeves’ first Vera Stanhope novel is steeped in both. When three women are brought together to work on an environmental study, they each come with their own share of secrets.
And they each wear the cloak of betrayal. Cleeves fleshes out each character admirably and makes them come alive on the page. There’s Rachael whose confidence has been shattered by her lover and boss, Peter Kemp; Anne, who isn’t above playing a few unkind games, herself; and Grace, a timid-seeming woman whose past is a dominant presence in her life. When Rachael arrives at Baikie’s Cottage, the project site, she discovers the body of her friend, Bella Furness. Bella has hanged herself and Rachael finds this impossible to believe. One could say that “the clock starts ticking” from this point as Rachael is determined to prove that Bella did not take her own life.
When another death occurs, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope makes her appearance and Rachael is forced to re-evaluate everything that’s happened.
With her casual and seemingly innocuous comments and questions, Vera is able to form a comprehensive time-line of events that point to the only person who could possibly be responsible for what has happened.
This is a cleverly crafted mystery where no comment or piece of information, however seemingly unimportant, should be dismissed.