On the first snowy night of winter, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope sets off for her home in the hills. A car has skidded off the narrow road in front of her, its door left open, and she stops to help. There is no driver to be seen, so Vera assumes that the owner has gone to find help. But a cry calls her back: a toddler is strapped in the back seat.
The Darkest Evening abounds in metaphors and memories ... If you’re on team Vera Stanhope, what Ann Cleeves has for you is a complicated, absorbing mystery. An early holiday present, if you like ... we come away with a deeper understanding and respect for Vera, her failsafe methods of detection, and the choices she’s made for her life.
In Ann Cleeves's The Darkest Evening, Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope, who polices England’s Northumberland countryside, can’t help but fear the worst when she comes upon a car abandoned in the midst of a blizzard, with a snow-suited toddler strapped in the backseat ... 'This whole case,' Vera comes to see, 'was about families, about what held them together and what ripped them apart.'
Cleeves has a fine time constructing a clockwork murder plot and using it to examine the lives in that circumscribed world ... Those not wanting to wallow in the sociological side of this mystery should focus on Vera as she follows the clues, including the baby in the abandoned car. Remember to watch out for that avocado.