Saying good-bye to Cleeves’ great character, Jimmy Perez, in Wild Fire, the last book in that series, was difficult so I welcomed the thought that there was a new detective in town with this first book in the Two Rivers series. My excitement was short-lived as I began reading, puzzled at the underdeveloped, wooden characters and a plot that consisted of threads of a story that just didn’t tie together. I felt like I was reading an outline, or at best, a first draft.
Detective Matthew Venn returns to North Devon to attend the funeral of his father. His falling-out with his family is referenced but no substance is given to this estrangement. When a body is found on the beach, and it’s determined to be a murder, Venn is called in to take the case.
Peopled with some of the most distasteful characters that I’ve come across in a long time, the motivation and actions of some of them just doesn’t ring true. Many of the story lines and characters needed extensive fleshing-out in order to come together to create a credibly good mystery. Too bad this wasn’t done before the book went to publication.