The body of a young man is found in a ditch in a country lane and shortly afterwards the body of an older man was found in the place where the younger man was staying. An investigation into their deaths is launched, and the police have to determine if and how they are linked, and who wants them both dead.
Who are the main characters?
The main protagonist is DCI Vera Stanhope, but we see a bit more of the private lives of her detective team as well as the lives of the potential suspects in the case. Holly has a crisis of confidence in her chosen profession and we learn a bit more about Joe Ashworth’s home life which has an impact on the case.
My overall impression?
I am usually a big fan of Ann Cleeves’ work and the “Vera” series is one of my favourites. As the series has progressed the quality of the storytelling has improved and in a lot of ways this one is no different. However, I did find that the plot was flimsy and a bit far-fetched in places making it a little bit unbelievable to me as a reader. For example, the reference to moth catching in the title bears very little relevance to the case other than a tenuous connection between a couple of the characters. The ending felt a little rushed for me and it wasn’t fully explained how the conclusion was reached. Having said that, the pacing and characterisation was spot on (except for the rushed ending) and I felt drawn into Vera’s world and I enjoyed reading the book.
Where is it set?
As with the others in the series, this is set in Northumberland, with much of the action taking place in and around Kimmerston and the local area.
Will I read the next in the series?
I will, definitely. What I like about Ann Cleeves is that though her books have been picked up for TV drama she hasn’t compromised the character of Vera Stanhope and she has resisted re-characterising her as she is portrayed on screen by Brenda Blethyn. Having said that, I did get irritated with the repeated physical descriptions of Vera because I felt that Cleeves was trying a bit too hard to keep her version of Vera separate from the Brenda Blethyn version. For example, the ‘original’ Vera was a large, almost oafish woman whose physical description put me in mind of Margaret Rutherford but Brenda Blethyn is a tiny woman who is dainty and not the remotest bit mannish or clumpy as she is written. So long as that tendency is kept under control in the next book then yes, by all means I will be reading it.
Would I recommend it to my friends?
I would recommend it to anyone who likes police crime drama and who likes a good read without all the blood and guts and gore as you can get in some modern crime thrillers. A lot is made of the relationships between the characters and the possible motivation for the murders rather than the forensic dissection of the bodies and the crime scene, which I find makes it a better read.