During a drought, the water levels in a reservoir drop drastically and reveal a submerged body tied to an anchor. The search is on for the identity of the victim and the reasons for the death. As the plot develops there is another murder and the police set out to find out what, if any, connection exists between the two deaths almost 30 years apart.
Where is it set?
An unspecified location “in the north” of England, probably Northumberland.
Who are the main characters?
The murder victim, obviously, and then we have a whole host of characters who at one time or another could be nominated as the main protagonist. Initially, we see the police officers – Peter Porteous and Eddie Stout – as the central characters, but as the story unfolds the viewpoint changes to Hannah and her daughter Rosie and her friends and back again to the police.
My overall impression?
I was really confused at the start of this book. The focus seemed to shift from one set of characters and back again without any real reason for it. The discovery of the body was a bit to prosaic for me – too many words, too poetic and didn’t really warrant that much attention. And the description of the Peter Porteous was a bit tedious really. Why did we need to know so much about him if he wasn’t going to be the main character throughout the book?
There were a couple of things that made me chuckle – the nominative determinism being one of them. The short, fat police officer called “Stout”; the pathologist called “Carver” for example.
I liked the story well enough but was a bit lost with all the characters – I kept having to remind myself who was who and how they fitted into the plot. Also, the switching around with character viewpoint was confusing and lost me a bit now and again.
As the plot unfolded and the story was revealed I thought it was winding up to be a really bit, dramatic ending but it didn’t come off as that. It was more of a fizz and pop than a thunderclap bang that it was leading to. I think this was one of Ann Cleeves’ earlier novels and I do know that the later ones are much better in construction and the plots are tighter and less confusing than this one. I did enjoy it though and would probably give it a 7/10.
Will I read the next in the series?
I don’t think it’s one of a series, it read very much as a standalone book, but I have read other works of Ann Cleeves’ and would read anything of hers in the future.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
Yes, undoubtedly. It’s probably one of those novels you can take on holiday with you or for a bit of bedtime reading rather than a book that is a rip-roaring page turner that you sacrifice meals for, but yes, a good book for pretty much any bookworm to have a go at.